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 Monday, two hog lagoons in the hurricane-affected area had been breached, seven had overflowed, and four had been inundated. Another 14 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.” READ MORE:[give_form id=”79809″] [contentcards url=”https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/7xjb4d/hurricane-florence-is-turning-north-carolina-into-a-toxic-stew-of-pig-poop-sewage-and-coal-ash” target=”_blank”]