Hurricane Florence is creating a strain on North Carolina’s hog lagoons. Because of the storm, at least 77 lagoons in the state have either released pig waste into the environment or are at risk of doing so soon, according to a report issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and reported by The New York Times.
When a pig at a large-scale farm urinates or defecates, the waste falls through slatted floors into holding troughs below, which are periodically flushed into an earthen hole in the ground, called a lagoon. That lagoon is filled with water, pig excrement and anaerobic bacteria, which digest the slurry. According to The Times, North Carolina has 9.7 million pigs that produce 10 billion gallons of manure, mostly on large-scale farms. When storms like Florence hit, the waste in the lagoons can be released into the environment through structural damage or because of flooding and overflow.
These lagoon leaks can cause environmental trouble, including killing off fish and algal blooms if the waste enters rivers.
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