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

Health + Wellness

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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