High levels of nutrients, bacteria found in water at CAFO spill site

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop takes a water sample at the Wayne County site where a major spill happened earlier this year.

A couple of weeks ago, your Riverkeepers were out in the field on Nahunta Swamp to investigate whether or not there continues to be pollution issues at the White Oak Farm in Wayne County. There, a biogas digester exploded this past May, resulting in millions of gallons waste “foam” — comprised of dead hogs, hog waste, and expired food products — be spilled out of the digester. Some of that foam made it into Nahunta Swamp. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality recently issued an enforcement action against the facility, including a $35,000 fine for their numerous permit violations and mismanagement of the facility that ultimately resulted in this major spill event. According to DEQ, this spill had been contained and clean up completed this summer.

Water samples collected by your Riverkeepers, though, showed incredibly elevated levels of nutrients and bacteria in Nahunta Swamp in the vicinity of the facility, indicating that there are ongoing pollution issues and water quality concerns there. With the help of the Southern Environmental Law Center, your Riverkeepers sent a letter to DEQ today with these results and requested immediate investigation by the agency into these ongoing pollution issues. We will provide more updates and information in the New Year.