Marianne Engelman Lado, Senior Staff Attorney, Earthjustice: “As part of its investigation, we've invited EPA to come, smell the air, see the facility, see how people are living in proximity to these lagoons.”
What's at Stake
The industrial hog facilities are disproportionately located in communities of color, where residents are forced to endure the smell and water quality impacts.
The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help and Waterkeeper Alliance, supported by Earthjustice, have filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Civil Rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging that North Carolina’s lax regulation of hog waste disposal discriminates against communities of color in eastern North Carolina.
The complaint is the latest chapter in a longstanding struggle to address the community health impacts posed by massive amounts of fecal waste from industrial hog facilities. Community members have repeatedly asked the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for stronger protections, but are now seeking help from the EPA, stating that a recent decision by DENR to issue a permit that will cover thousands of hog facilities without adequate waste disposal controls violates federal law and civil rights.
The permit continues to allow industry to flush hog feces and urine into open, unlined pits and then to spray this “liquid manure” onto nearby fields. This practice leads to waste contaminating nearby waters. The waste also drifts as mist onto neighboring properties, causing unbearable odors. The impact is worsened by the growth of the poultry industry in the state and the piles of chicken waste that often sit uncovered on fields for days on end.
These operations are disproportionately located in communities of color where neighbors are forced to endure the smell, water quality impacts and the embarrassment associated with the facilities operating near their homes.