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Aerial tour reveals major Neuse pollution threats

CAFOs, Climate Change, Environmental, Flooding, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on October 5th, 2023

SELC Attorney Blakely Hildebrand, Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop and South Wings pilot Rolf Wallin prepare for takeoff.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop took to the skies this week, taking an environmental attorney on a tour of pollution threats to the Neuse River.

Courtesy of South Wings volunteer pilot Rolf Wallin, Sam and Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Blakely Hildebrand flew out of Wayne Executive Jetport and scoped out a few locations of interest in the Goldsboro area: a concentrated animal feeding operation(CAFO) located right next to the Neuse River; Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee plant, site of a massive coal ash spill during Hurricane Matthew; Busco Beach ATV Park, where sedimentation and erosion has become an issue; and White Oak Farms, site of the hog waste spill into Nahunta Swamp that prompted a Sound Rivers investigation, and, later NCDEQ fines.

Each is currently, or at risk for being, a major source of pollution for the Neuse River.

“So, the CAFO, formerly known as the Bob Ivey facility, is in the floodway, which means its hog-waste lagoon floods any time the river overflows the banks. It doesn’t have to be a 100-year flood to do it. It’s still in operation. It’s still there,” Sam said. “We’re trying to hammer down on the need to get these facilities out of the floodplains.”

The White Oak Farms flyover revealed a new issue: what appears to be blue-green algae growing in water that’s accumulated on the cover used to harness biogas from a hog-waste lagoon, as well as in an adjacent stormwater pond—a sign of nutrient pollution. The site in not currently in operation, but is an ongoing source of pollution of Nahunta Swamp, according to the Sound Rivers investigation, as well as findings by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

“It continues to look gross from the sky, and we will continue to monitor it and continue to tell DEQ about what we see,” Sam said.

The “Bob Ivey” CAFO, located next to the Neuse River.
From a different angle, the “Bob Ivey” CAFO underwater during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop.

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