Hog Lagoon Replacement Plan Funded

US - Environmentalists regard hog lagoons as a hazardous cause of pollution. They also represent health threats due to waste disposal.
calendar icon 9 June 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

A lagoon that burst at an Onslow County hog farm in 1995 sent nearly 25 million gallons of untreated waste flooding into the New River, killing thousands of fish and prompting a state moratorium on new hog farms, reports StarNewsOnline.

An in-depth study by N.C. State University, funded by the hog industry under an agreement with the state, backed up that fact.

But that doesn't mean officials are backing away from their long-term goal of phasing out the state's nearly 5,000 active and abandoned lagoons.

Taking its first tentative step in seeing if a next-generation disposal system is feasible, the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation last week announced that it would give as much as $500,000 each to two farms and a waste-processing operator. The money will allow the farms to install the necessary equipment to separate the solids from the water waste and Super Soil Systems Inc. USA to expand its plant to process the additional solid waste into fertilizer and other gardening products.

Joe Rudek, a scientist with Environmental Defense Fund's Raleigh office, called the move an important first step in moving the process along.

But he said the program wasn't meant to subsidize the hog industry in cleaning up its ways, but to help the farmers who were willing to embrace the new but economically unproved technology.

"This lagoon-conversion program is not a program to fund conversion of the entire industry," Rudek said. "The purpose is to reward these farmers who are taking that risk."

Ray Campbell, president of Clinton-based Super Soils Systems, admitted that his company's disposal system isn't as cheap as the traditional lagoon-and-sprayfield method.

The Super Soils system is just one of the innovative technologies officials are interested in getting in the ground. Others would seek to capitalize on methane gas from hog waste.

Angie Whitener, director of policy development with the N.C. Pork Council, said the hog industry trade group was looking forward to seeing how the Super Soils and other innovative technologies performed environmentally and economically.

View the StarNewsOnline story by clicking here.

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