There has been much deserved panic about the thousands of pigs and open-air waste lagoons in the path of Hurricane Florence, mostly in North Carolina. While the state is still waiting for floodwaters to recede so that farmers can assess the damage, the North Carolina Pork Council has reported that one of the waste lagoons that breached since Florence made landfall is in Duplin County (pictured below).
Duplin County is the same county that happens to be at the center of litigation involving hundreds of African-American residents and the hundreds more hog farms located in their vicinity. Civil rights attorneys sued Smithfield Farms, and its hog-production division Murphy-Brown, in 2015 for their failure to properly regulate and control the toxic odorous emissions coming from those farms and lagoons, which Smithfield owns. A recent study found that communities in southeastern North Carolina, where Duplin County is located and where animal feeding operations are concentrated, “had higher … infant mortality, mortality due to anemia, kidney disease, tuberculosis, septicemia” along with the lowest life expectancy levels in the state.
The black residents who live close to these operations have for decades endured headaches, nausea, and vomiting spells as the smells from the hog-waste lagoons travel to their homes, many of which are less than a mile away. Black families there have caught gusts of the actual pig manure from farmers spraying it on their fields as fertilizer as well.