Analysis of Operations in and nearby Floodplains Reveals the Potential Inundations of Thousands of Waste Cesspools Holding Hundreds of Millions of Gallons of Manure and Urine
Hurricane Florence’s torrential rains pelted parts of North Carolina that are home to more than 1,500 industrial animal operations with over 1,000 nearby waste storage cesspools. These operations have the potential to annually produce as much as 4 billion gallons of wet swine waste and 400 thousand tons of dry poultry litter, an exclusive analysis by EWG and Waterkeeper Alliance reveals.
The organizations overlaid locations of concentrated animal feeding operations with government rainfall estimates to produce an interactive map that details Florence’s potential impact on vulnerable operations in the state. Clicking and zooming in on a location shows the estimated amount of rain each operation received from Sept. 14, when Florence made landfall, through Sept. 16, and the potential amount of waste produced or stored at each site.
The groups calculated the potential waste stored at each site by using North Carolina permit data, the USDA Agricultural Census, and manure production rate data from the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual. A link to the methodology is here.
Among our findings:
Source: EWG, from National Weather Service data
“It’s just a matter of time until another massive rain event happens again in the floodplain,” said Soren Rundquist, Director of Spatial Analysis at EWG. “How many scenes of swamped animal barns and breached manure pits do state leaders and the factory farm industry need to see before they realize producing and storing billions of pounds of animal waste in flood-prone areas was and is a bad decision?”
“Waste mismanagement at industrial animal agriculture operations threatens public health and environmental quality under sunny skies,” said Will Hendrick, staff attorney and manager of the Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign at Waterkeeper Alliance. “That threat is disproportionately borne by communities of color or low wealth and it is exacerbated, given the concentration of production in the coastal plain, by increasingly frequent and severe storms like Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.”
EWG and Waterkeeper Alliance will continue our analysis of Hurricane Florence’s impact on CAFOs in North Carolina’s coastal plain.