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Polluting Hog Farm Threatened With Lawsuit for Violations of Clean Water Act

Health + Wellness
Polluting Hog Farm Threatened With Lawsuit for Violations of Clean Water Act

Waterkeeper Alliance

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) and Waterkeeper Alliance have filed a notice of intent to sue the owners and operators of the JC Howard Hill and Taylor swine concentrated animal feeding operation in Jones County for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The notice was sent by counsel at the Southern Environmental Law Center, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Waterkeeper Alliance. The groups allege that swine waste has been mismanaged at the facility and is unlawfully being discharged into wetlands, ditches, streams, rivers and groundwater without a permit.

“This facility is endangering the health of North Carolinians and the environment,” said Jim Starr, board president for the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation. “Swine waste is continuing to be illegally dumped into the Trent and Neuse River Watershed.”

The notice alleges that the Hill and Taylor Facility has dumped large amounts of swine waste on fields in excess of any legitimate fertilization purpose, as well as on bare ground.

“Improper waste disposal practices and discharges contribute to diminished water quality for our community. In addition, degraded water quality has the potential to adversely affect recreation and commercial fishing as well as the wildlife throughout the basin of the Neuse River,” said Mitchell Blake, the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper.

“The hog farming industry in North Carolina continues to use our waterways and lands as a garbage dump and the Hill and Taylor Facility is yet another example of this reckless behavior,” says Gary Grant, director of NCEJN, an organization concerned both with the environmental and human health effects caused by industrial animal operations and with protecting and preserving North Carolina waterways. “The clear violation of the law and disregard for the local community needs to be addressed and the lack of any agency action has convinced us that a citizen suit is the only way we can stop this behavior.”

Animal waste contains large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens, which can endanger human health and the environment when improperly managed and disposed of on lands in the Neuse River Basin. In the notice, the groups allege that nitrogen, phosphorus and bacteria have been repeatedly discharged from the JC Howard Hill and Taylor Facility to Joshua Branch, Poplar Branch and Tuckahoe Creek, which are tributaries to the Trent River.

The Neuse at sunset, Camp Seafarer, Pamlico, NC. Photo credit: North Carolina Riverkeepers and Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Discharges of animal waste to surface water and groundwater contaminate drinking water, pollute important recreational waters and impair fisheries,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Illegal discharges of swine waste are destroying waterways and jeopardizing public health in North Carolina."

"The health and well-being of North Carolina communities, its seafood, small farms and tourism depend on clean water and compliance with laws that limit pollution from industrial hog operations,” said Geoff Gisler, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

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"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

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First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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