PED virus killing millions of NC piglets

And their disposal is threatening groundwater quality:

“They’re very secretive about how many pigs have died in North Carolina, but we estimate that it’s about two million over the last year or so,” said Rick Dove, a retired Marine Corps lawyer who has taken aerial photos of pig farms for Waterkeeper’s North Carolina affiliate. “They can’t move those pigs off the farm because it will spread disease, so they’re being buried in ground along the coastal waterways where the groundwater level is high.”

The virus does not infect humans. As the corpses decompose, however, they can become hosts for bacteria and other pathogens.

NC's hog farms have long been a source for both air and water quality concerns, and there's been a constant battle between pork industry lobbyists and environmentalists, not to mention the people who live in proximity to these massive operations. And the man NC voters (for some reason) have entrusted with the management of such is once again taking the "do nothing" route to handling the problem:

Steven W. Troxler, the state’s agricultural commissioner, has so far declined to seek an emergency declaration, saying in a letter to Waterkeeper that he thought existing disposal systems, including composting and the shipping of carcasses to rendering facilities, were up to the challenge. “We are not aware of any published scientific data that indicates any groundwater contamination as a result of PEDv,” according to the letter, which Mr. Troxler wrote in March.

As the Agricultural Commissioner, have you requested any studies be done, by DWQ or university science departments? Not bloody likely, since you have served for years as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the industry. An industry that has pushed hard for government to help it operate in the shadows:

Some of the huge hog operations in North Carolina have become ensnared in disputes over aerial photographing of farms, some of it unrelated to the spread of the virus, and industry officials have expressed concerns about the practice as well.

Three state lawmakers had proposed a bill that effectively would require state agencies to keep under lock and key any aerial photographs of agricultural operations that include global positioning coordinates. The move echoed an effort by United States Senator Mike Johanns, Republican of Nebraska, to impose a yearlong moratorium on the Environmental Protection Agency’s taking of aerial photographs of cattle feedlots and farming operations to monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act.

North Carolina issued a warning to a pig operation for having an open burial pit on its property, Ms. Foster, the Waterkeeper lawyer, said. The organization brought the issue, which it documented with aerial photos of the farm, to the attention of the state agriculture department.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau contends that such photographs create unnecessary expenses for its members. “Third parties are making complaints to environmental regulators, and using aerial photography to document what they say are violations,” said Paul Sherman, director of the farm bureau’s air and energy programs. “The vast majority of those cases are unfounded, but farmers still have to deal with it, it eats up a good part of a day or two and often the same complaints come up multiple times.”

If we had a regulatory regime that would adequately monitor these monstrous operations, third parties wouldn't need to get involved. But we don't, so they do. And thank God for them doing so, or we would have no idea what's happening to our water.

Comments

Pigs

When I read this story yesterday, it literally made me sick. Still does.

Yeah, me too

A big part of the problem has to do with how many of these piglets get shipped between states, so the individual farms can maintain their populations. How many of them were aware they were sick and shipped them off so they wouldn't have to deal with the soon-to-be dead animals? They'd never admit it, of course.

Monitoring is key

You said it:

If we had a regulatory regime that would adequately monitor these monstrous operations, third parties wouldn't need to get involved.

There are about 2300 of these operations in NC, but only about a dozen have groundwater monitoring, and none do any stream monitoring. And Mr. Sherman and DWQ and the NCDA all know that even the well-run ones are contaminating groundwater.

Unfrotunately, quashing DENR's ability and authority to monitor and enforce against these "farms" has been a bipartisan effort for 20 years, with many "good democrats" on the wrong side of this issue.