S**tStorm: Florence Brews a Toxic Poop Soup in NC

September 19, 2018


In other words, the ultimate Trumper wet dream.

Yahoo News:

About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture issued the livestock mortality totals Tuesday, as major flooding is continuing after the slow-moving storm’s drenching rains. Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecasted to peak by Thursday.

The Department of Environmental Quality said the earthen dam at one hog lagoon in Duplin County had breached, spilling its contents. Another 25 of the pits containing animal feces and urine have either suffered structural damage, had wastewater levels go over their tops from heavy rains or had been swamped by floodwaters. Large mounds of manure are also typically stored at poultry farms.


The 40 inches of rain Hurricane Florence has dumped on North Carolina is leaving a trail of industrial waste as runoff from coal ash pits, inundated sewage systems, and feces from dozens of hog farms pours into rivers, lakes, and neighborhoods.

North Carolina is home to the densest population of hogs in the country with 2,100 hog farms producing an estimated 40 million gallons of hog poop a day, most of which ends up being stored in 3,000 open-pit earthen basins known as “lagoons.”

Before Florence made landfall, hog farms had been frantically trying to lower the level of those lagoons by spraying the waste on fields. But as of noon Tuesday, four hog lagoons in the hurricane area had been breached, 13 had overflowed and nine had been inundated. Another 55 were at or almost at capacity and in danger of overflowing, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.

“You basically have a toxic soup for people who live in close proximity to those lagoons,” said Sacoby Wilson, a professor of public health at the University of Maryland. “All of these contaminants that are in the hog lagoons, like salmonella, giardia, and E-coli, can get into the waterways and infect people trying to get out.”

These lagoons contain large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, which farmers spray as fertilizer onto nearby fields. In excess, these nutrients are also a primary contributor to algae blooms and so-called “dead zones,” large areas with such low levels of oxygen that animals can’t survive. Some, like the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is so big it can be seen from space.

Nitrogen from agricultural runoff is also the primary contributor to dangerous levels of nitrate in drinking water across parts of the U.S., which has been linked to different kinds of cancers and blue baby syndrome, a potentially fatal infant condition.

Below, the Cape Fear River is expected to crest today – almost 27 feet – like a 3 story building – above flood stage.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:

Three sequential hurricanes, Dennis, Floyd, and Irene, affected coastal North Carolina in September and October 1999. These hurricanes inundated the region with up to 1 m of rainfall, causing 50- to 500-year flooding in the watershed of the Pamlico Sound, the largest lagoonal estuary in the United States and a key West Atlantic fisheries nursery. We investigated the ecosystem-level impacts on and responses of the Sound to the floodwater discharge. Floodwaters displaced three-fourths of the volume of the Sound, depressed salinity by a similar amount, and delivered at least half of the typical annual nitrogen load to this nitrogen-sensitive ecosystem.

Organic carbon concentrations in floodwaters entering Pamlico Sound via a major tributary (the Neuse River Estuary) were at least 2-fold higher than concentrations under prefloodwater conditions. A cascading set of physical, chemical, and ecological impacts followed, including strong vertical stratification, bottom water hypoxia, a sustained increase in algal biomass, displacement of many marine organisms, and a rise in fish disease. Because of the Sound’s long residence time (≈1 year), we hypothesize that the effects of the short-term nutrient enrichment could prove to be multiannual. A predicted increase in the frequency of hurricane activity over the next few decades may cause longer-term biogeochemical and trophic changes in this and other estuarine and coastal habitats.


Vice again:

Aside from human and hog waste, industrial waste from coal could also be floating in the mixture.

A coal ash landfill owned by Duke Energy at the L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington has collapsed twice already — once on Saturday and once on Monday — spilling at least 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash, about enough to fill 150 dump trucks, and sending stormwater contaminated with coal ash toxins into a nearby lake.

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal for energy and contains high amounts of heavy metals and toxins like mercury and arsenic. In a statement to VICE News, Duke Energy spokesperson Paige Sheehan said “the releases of water and ash from the Sutton landfill have stopped and repairs are already underway.”

This isn’t the first time Duke’s coal ash pits have been an environmental hazard. In 2014, the Dan River Steam Station, also owned by Duke Energy, released 39,000 tons of coal into the Dan River near Eden, N.C., according to the EPA. Duke Energy pled guilty in 2015 to criminal violations against the Clean Water Act and was fined $25 million, the state’s largest ever fine for environmental contamination. Repairs at that site were still ongoing when Hurricane Florence hit.

The National Weather Service has stated that historic river flooding will continue for days across portions of the Carolinas. Already three North Carolina rivers, including the Neuse, Trent, and Cape Fear have flooded, with record-setting flooding expected by the end of the week.

For many residents, the worst of the environmental impacts might not come until after. “People aren’t just impacted while they are escaping through a potential mix of animal and human waste,“ Wilson said. “After the event, when they are going back to their houses, there will be a sludge of all different kinds of chemical and microbial contaminants.”



3 Responses to “S**tStorm: Florence Brews a Toxic Poop Soup in NC”

  1. […] via S**tStorm: Florence Brews a Toxic Poop Soup in NC | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    “A predicted increase in the frequency of hurricane activity over the next few decades (MAY) cause longer-term biogeochemical and trophic changes in this and other estuarine and coastal habitats”.

    Again, rather than “WILL cause”, or “WILL LIKELY cause”. or “MOST ASSUREDLY will cause”, we again use the wimpy “may cause”, which is all the deniers need to hear to dismiss the science. The evidence is in—-dead spots in the Gulf, nutrient overload from runoff in FL causing red tides and algal growth. Do we have to wait for 50.0001% of the coastlines and estuaries to be damaged before we say it IS A FACT?

    An aside on coal ash ponds—-testified at the EPA hearing in Arlington VA on relaxing the standards—-heard lots of horror stories from the folks from NC who were impacted by the 2014 spill—-people STILL drinking bottled water and much cancer and other illnesses among the 300+ people most involved in the cleanup effort. These repeated soaking/flooding hurricanes WILL cause irretrievable damage to the groundwater and estuaries.

  3. […] KEEP READING > https://climatecrocks.com/2018/09/19/ststorm-florence-brews-a-toxic-poop-soup-in-nc/ […]

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