Smithfield seeks expansion

US - Smithfield Packing Co. wants to increase by more than 1 million the number of hogs it can slaughter at its Tar Heel plant each year, bringing the total to 9.5 million.
calendar icon 14 March 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Smithfield has asked the state Division of Water Quality to include an increase in the company’s new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. That is the document that regulates the amount of chemicals, grease and other substances the company can discharge into the Cape Fear River each day.

The state will hold a public hearing on the matter at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Bladen Community College in Dublin. People may speak during the hearing on whether they think the permit should be issued, modified or denied. Written comments may be submitted to the state.

An expansion could mean the company hires more workers, said Dennis Pittman, a Smithfield spokesman. The company would expand production, he said, by adding a second shift on Saturdays, which would give some workers a chance to pad their paychecks with overtime.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit must be renewed every five years. In 2002, more than 330people attended the public hearing, and 46 spoke.

The company sought an expansion in 2002 as well. The state allowed Smithfield to increase production by 1 million to 8.488 million, a capacity it maintains today.

Pork industry officials spoke in favor of granting the expansion then, saying it would allow more Tar Heel pork producers to have their animals slaughtered in North Carolina.

Environmentalists opposed the increase. They argued that an increase in Smithfield’s capacity would, despite a moratorium on new hog farms, allow for more hogs and more pollution from hog waste.


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