By: Waterkeeper Alliance
North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture to Take Action on Carcass Disposal from Deadly PED Hog Virus
Commissioner Troxler’s Response to Inquiry on Hog Epidemic Inadequate
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Waterkeeper Alliance today called on North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler to use the power of his office to regulate and oversee the swine industry’s handling of dead hogs resulting from the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in North Carolina, instead of allowing unsupervised individual facilities to manage the emergency themselves.
Waterkeeper Alliance and North Carolina Riverkeepers wrote to Commissioner Troxler on February 27th requesting that he immediately inform the public about the scope of the problem and human health risks associated improper handling and disposal of infected hog carcasses, to take responsibility for ensuring that massive hog mortality will be safely managed by the swine industry and supervised by the State, and if necessary, to urge the Governor to declare a state of emergency in affected counties in order to appropriately respond to the epidemic.
“Secretary Troxler responded to our inquiry on March 7th with a letter to Waterkeeper that largely ignored our information requests, was dismissive in nature, was nontransparent, and provided vague and conflicting information about how hogs dying from PEDv are being disposed of and threats they pose to human health and the environment,” said Mr. Gray Jernigan, North Carolina-based staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Secretary Troxler’s response only served to further muddy what the public knows about this epidemic and the state’s role in managing this emergency.”
There is conflicting information coming from the Commissioner’s office on how hogs that have died from PEDv are being disposed of. The Commissioner indicated in his letter that rendering is the preferred method of disposal, while Director of Livestock Health Dr. Tom Ray has suggested that most hogs are being buried on site at swine feeding operations.
The Department’s own Animal Burial Guidelines During A Declared Emergency, developed in 2011, stress that “[p]roper burial and disposal will prevent potential public health problems resulting from large numbers of dead and decaying animals including the spread of harmful pathogens, ground and surface water contamination, and pest control.”
“There is currently little to no government oversight of carcass disposal in the midst of this epidemic, and we are calling on the State to take action as authorized by law to protect the citizens of North Carolina,” added Mr. Jernigan. “There is virtually no information on this epidemic and disposal practices available to the public, including on the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.”
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About WATERKEEPER® Alliance
Founded in 1999 by environmental attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and several veteran Waterkeeper Organizations, Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect over 1.5 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. Learn more at: www.waterkeeper.org or follow @Waterkeeper on Twitter and Facebook.
Peter Cleary, [email protected], (212) 747-0622
Gray Jernigan, [email protected], (919) 839-6011