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Animal Feeding Operations in the Path of Hurricanes Florence and Michael

(Note, 10/9/18: Hurricane Michael is currently projected to make landfall as a major hurricane along the Florida Gulf Coast, and then traverse much of the same area that was affected by Hurricane Florence. This is one of several fact sheets prepared in advance of Hurricane Florence on environmental threats in the Southeast.)

North Carolina is the nation’s second-largest pork producer, with much of that production taking place at industrial-scale farms. Waste at these farms is often stored in lagoons, which are ponds filled with waste that has been mixed with water. These lagoons are often just simple pits separated from waterways by an embankment. Spills can occur when lagoons fail or overflow, or when hoses or pipes carrying waste leak.

Waste lagoons are at greater risk of spilling during extreme weather events such as hurricanes. Hurricane Florence is projected to affect major agricultural regions of North Carolina and neighboring states, where manure storage in lagoons is common. Leakage from or failure of animal waste lagoons can pose a significant risk to water quality and wildlife, as animal waste contains an array of dangerous bacteria and other pollutants.

The factsheet linked below provides further information on manure lagoons in areas that may be affected by Hurricane Florence.