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Florence Killed 5.5K Pigs in NC, Spewed Manure

3.4M chickens and turkeys also perished
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2018 9:04 AM CDT
This March 21, 2014, aerial photo shows a waste lagoon next to Stantonsburg Farm hog houses in North Carolina.   (AP Photo/Kinston Free Press, Zach Frailey)
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(Newser) Hurricane Florence unleashed torrential rain, dangerous wind gusts, and now a new environmental hazard in North Carolina: the overflowing of its hog manure lagoons—and it's "nasty," per the New York Times. Many of North Carolina's nearly 10 million pigs are located on large-scale farms in Duplin and Sampson counties, both hit hard by the hurricane. The North Carolina Pork Council is insisting pig producers have learned from previous storms and that only two dozen or so hog lagoons (some as large as Olympic-size swimming pools, per Quartz) were impacted by Florence, either via breaches caused by rain-induced erosion, overflow from too much rain, or "inundation" by floodwaters. But the state's Department of Environmental Quality said that, as of Tuesday at noon, more than 50 others were also close to spewing pig waste into the environment.

Per the NCPC, the lagoons are designed to absorb close to two dozen inches of rain, but Florence's rainfall was at that level, or close to it, in some places, notes the Washington Post. NPR notes the hog lagoons—holes in the ground where pig excrement is flushed, along with water and anaerobic bacteria—have long been the subject of "intense political controversy," and research has indeed linked health issues to the farms. The hogs themselves were also affected by the storm, with the AP reporting about 5,500 of them were killed in North Carolina after swollen rivers flooded nearby farms, per the state's Department of Agriculture. About 3.4 million turkeys and chickens also perished, and because dozens of poultry farms are now surrounded by floodwaters, feed deliveries may be stalled and more birds may die, one of the state's major poultry producers says. (Read more Hurricane Florence stories.)

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