COPY OF TEXT OF EMAIL SENT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, ON AUGUST 21, 2003.
The pictures below illustrate a grave concern as to what has been taking place in hog production during the wet spring and summer of this year (and over past years). Hardly one day out of seven has been suitable for applying hog waste to fields over the past eight months. During that period, I have sent you countless pictures of animal waste being illegally applied to saturated fields, straight piped and discharged by surface runoff to public trust waters, sprayed before, during and after heavy rainfall events and sprayed under windy conditions--all in clear violation of hog facility waste management plans as well as the Clean Water and Resources Conservation and Recovery Acts. The situation is now much worse. Some producers who have full cesspools got that way by trying to follow their waste management plans. Others got that way through negligence coupled with the bad weather. All of these practices and high pit levels are of concern and warrant official action.
But there is a greater concern. It involves cesspools that are far below any reasonable level of capacity considering the bad weather that has been around since January. Many pits are half empty and many of the rest are at low capacity levels that cannot be justified given the rain we have experienced. Of course, there may be legitimate reasons for some of the low level pits. However, this situation is so widespread as to warrant but one reasonable overall explanation--most producers have been dumping their waste in violation of the law. As unfortunate as the weather conditions are, they have no right to do that and it is the obligation of DENR to stop them.
Unfortunately, what I am hearing from producers is that DENR is working with them to find ways to reduce their pit levels by applying waste outside of agronomical rates. They are being allowed to violate the law without penalty. When producers' fields are saturated, inspectors are allowing them to find the few dry spots that may exist. These spots are now receiving animal waste and the nutrients in that waste at non-agronomical rates. The result is an eventual discharge to surface waters. Millions of gallons of animal waste is now being discharged in this manner without enforcement or penalty. In the end the taxpayers of this state will have to bear the cost of the cleanup.
I realize that the General Assembly put a lot of pressure on your Department during its last session. Instead of standing up to polluters, it proposed legislation that would excuse them and in many ways degrade your enforcement powers. Please do not let that influence your decisions now. The situation is critical. Our waterways are at great risk.
Instead of allowing hog producers to violate the law as a solution to their problems, I strongly urge you to require that they immediately depopulate their herds. Fewer animals means less waste. It's the only answer to take care of the present situation. As a permanent solution I urge you to strongly support Representative Luebke's House Bill that sets a date certain for the elimination of the cesspool/sprayfled method of disposing of hog waste.
Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance, 252 447-8999
Click picture once to enlarge
Dead Fish from 9/4/03 Neuse River Fish Kill
Fish have been dying in the Neuse River by the millions. In part this is due to the hog nutrient pollution that has runoff with the heavy rains of the past eight months. The state has responded to these kills with denial. On 9/10/03, the Raleigh News and Observer has challenged that denial in an editorial. (For more details concerning this fish kill and others on the Neuse, see page 6 of this web site "Fish Kills" )
Below the Raleigh N&O is quoted in part:
"The winds stirred that water, the state's water-quality monitors said in their report, suffocating more than a million fish over a few days. What has sucked up the oxygen are massive growths of algae. Those underwater plants wouldn't grow so prolifically were it not for a potent soup of nutrients that flows into the Neuse and other important, sensitive waters in North Carolina from a variety of sources. The sources include hog farm wastes (which operators get rid of by spraying on farm fields), runoff of crop fertilizers, and spills from municipal sewage systems"
The state is misrepresenting what happened in the recent fish kills. I expect they are doing this so as not to jeopardize their plan to report the river as "recovered" during a conference to be held in New Bern in November.
I have caught the state's fish kill monitoring team, named the Rapid Response Team (RRT), and state officials knowingly making statements for which they had no basis.
The state said that the 2,000,000 fish that died on the night of September 4th perished in a wind shift. I have conclusive proof that the fish died on the 4th long before any wind shift occurred. The RRT did not cover the fish kill on the 4th when it took place. They did not arrive at the scene of the kill until the next day when all that was left to do was count dead fish.
Yesterday, Susan Massengale, speaking on behalf of the state, stated in a report to TV Station WNCT that it was calm hot waters that killed the fish and that pollution was not involved. Not only is this opposite from earlier statements, it is also unsupported in fact. Once again, the state has NO DATA or observations upon which they can base any such opinions. The fish kill started at 8:30 pm and was mostly over by 10:00 pm on the 4th. Why didn't the RRT cover the fish kills? In their own words, it was because it was night and they were not permitted to work on the water after dark because it was too dangerous.
I have consulted with several scientists and they, like the Raleigh N&O, point their finger at nutrient pollution as a key factor in these recent fish kills.
This website and all its pictures copyright protected 2003. If you wish to see other photographs or obtain copies of any of these pictures, please contact me at RDOVE@ec.rr.com