As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, there have been no reported breaches of hog lagoons in North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew, according to a press release from the North Carolina Pork Council. Fewer than 3,000 swine were killed during the hurricane. Only one farm lost any swine due to flooding.
Hog farms across Eastern North Carolina are continuing to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew and the extensive flooding brought by the storm. There are more than 2,100 permitted hog farms in North Carolina and the vast majority of them faced tremendous challenges caused by the storm. Fortunately, the damage caused by the storm up to this point has been relatively minimal.
There remains a serious threat to life and animals caused by additional flooding.
Status of hog lagoons
It is estimated that six farms across Eastern North Carolina have lagoons that have been inundated with flood waters. This is a situation where the lagoons did not overflow or breach, but the lagoon is underwater as a result of flood waters coming onto the property.
There has been one reported incident involving a failed flush tank pipe. This issue was found immediately once the power was restored and reported to state Department of Environmental Quality. The farm reported a discharge of approximately 500 gallons. It did not reach the waters of the state and the wastewater was pumped back into the lagoon.
Difference between breaches and inundation
When a hog lagoon is breached, the lagoon walls give way and can no longer hold back the wastewater. The contents of the lagoon are typically emptied into surrounding fields.
By contrast, a lagoon that is underwater still remains intact. The floodwater runs over the lagoon and carries away only a small portion of the wastewater. Most of the wastewater remains in the lagoon and the environmental impact is greatly minimized.