Stop the hog industry from spraying pig waste on our homes

Last week, The Moore Charitable Foundation team attended the 2016 Waterkeeper Alliance Conference in Wilmington, North Carolina. The location of the event underscored Waterkeeper’s significant efforts to address the environmental destruction and injustice caused by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

As a nation of concerned citizens, we need to tell the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights to help stop the civil rights violations in North Carolina and protect families against environmental injustice. Please read the Change.org petition excerpt below from local resident Elsie Herring who has courageously stepped up, in the face of daily intimidation, to urge us to sign now in support of the basic human rights of clean and clean water for all.

Elsie Herring of Wallace, NC

Elsie Herring of Wallace, NC. Photo (c) Change.org

The hog operation next door makes my life miserable. The pork industry down here in North Carolina places profits over my civil rights. I have no choice but to live with spray manure blowing onto my property. There’s an increase in snakes, rats, flies, and mosquitoes. There’s a horrific odor seeping into my house even when the windows are shut as the Health Department has advised.

Please sign my petition telling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights to help stop the civil rights violations here in North Carolina and protect families like mine from exposure to hog waste.

The powerful hog industry should not get away with this poor treatment of people of color and the environment just as those who brushed aside concerns of those in Flint, Michigan should be held accountable for their shameful discrimination and the health and environmental impact that caused.

I’ve had the contract grower next door call me a “bitch” repeatedly because of my complaints. I’ve had men on my property with guns to intimidate me. I’ve had local authorities with connections to the hog industry tell me defending my right to clean air and water could put me in prison.

Do you ever see hog facilities set up in wealthy, white communities? Why do you think that is?

Epidemiologists from the University of North Carolina determined these industrial hog operations “disproportionately affect Black, Hispanic and American Indian residents,” and this reflects a pattern “generally recognized as environmental racism.”

I live on property that’s been in my family since the 1800s when my grandfather bought it after being freed from slavery. My mother lived here her whole life. It’s a shame that the hog industry came in a couple decades ago, without giving proper notice, and causes such problems for longtime residents.

If the liquid waste can eat the paint off my car just imagine what it’s doing to our bodies.  When they start spraying around manure from their lagoons, you know it. Your eyes start running, you start coughing and gagging, and you have trouble breathing and your heart rate goes up. Headaches from the odor are all too common.

Our air is so polluted that we can’t hang our clothes out to dry unless we want them to smell like pig waste and risk having the manure mist cover our clothing. The water is so foul, we cannot drink from the well. There’s depression, anger, and frustration because many in my community have been doing all we can do stop this discriminatory treatment.

This is a desperate situation. As people of color and those who are poor, we are being taken advantage of, and now the EPA is looking into the discrimination and needs to know many American taxpayers want this to be taken seriously.

Over the years, I’ve done all I can to get some justice. I called everyone there is to call and attended any meeting where I could speak up to voice my concerns. It has not been enough, and that’s why I need you.

CLICK HERE to please ask the EPA to step in and investigate this discrimination. If it happens to me, it’s going to happen next door. It’s just a matter of time before it happens in your neighborhood.

This petition will be delivered to: Office of General Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency Avi Garbow
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The Southern Environment Law Center: Keeping North Carolina CAFOs in check

Here, in post #2 of a focus on The Orton Foundation partner Southern Environment Law Center,  we highlight the SELC’s work in addressing the pollution and injustice caused by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and protecting the air quality, water quality, and natural resources of the lower Cape Fear River.

Eastern North Carolina in particular has one of the highest concentrations of concentrated animal feeding operations in the world. The mind-boggling amount of untreated animal waste produced by factory farms, or CAFOs, and the side-stepping around pollution regulations work to threaten local waterways and the health and wellness of local communities. By denying independent consultants access to sites for groundwater sampling, and by attempting to change the classification of waters, North Carolina swine producers and sympathizers are refusing to address pollution, and refusing to acknowledge the environmental injustice forced upon local communities — often poor, African Americans.

In February 2015, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted a proposal to reclassify the segment of the Cape Fear River that flows through Brunswick County as slow-moving “swamp waters.” This reclassification of the river would allow regulators to reduce water quality protections  and ignore the impacts of pollution from upstream factory farms.

Thanks to the vigilance and determination of partners such as the SELC, these attempts that thwart the responsibility of the largest operations, such as now foreign-owned Smithfield Foods, are challenged. For instance, in October 2015, SELC filed a motion in federal court on behalf of Waterkeeper Alliance and South Rivers seeking to require groundwater analysis at 11 Smithfield Foods facilities in eastern North Carolina.

Keep informed about the SELC’s CAFOs efforts and more by signing up for their newsletter at the bottom of their website. You’d be surprised by all the critical issues they are keeping in check in order to protect the air and water of North Carolina and around the country.