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Riverkeeper responds to Swift Creek spill, CAFO violations

CAFOs, Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on May 16th, 2024

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has lifted a warning to stay out of Swift Creek, and issued a notice of four violations to the industrial animal facility responsible for the warning.

On April 30, DEQ received a call reporting hog waste in a ditch adjacent to the Saint John Farm, and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) near Grifton. Investigation revealed the hog waste had reached Swift Creek, a tributary of the Neuse River.

According to Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop, it’s not the first time the facility has received notices of violation.

“There have been problems with the facility in the past, including problems with its irrigation system. In fact, just two weeks before the spill, an NCDEQ inspection cited several problems with the system,” Sam said.

The recent NOVs include: discharge of wastewater to surface water; failure to notify NCDEQ of the discharge; failure to maintain fields and irrigation equipment as required by the facility’s Certified Animal Waste Management Plan; and excessive ponding and runoff.

“Facilities with a history of issues should be required to be under a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit,” Sam said. “When it comes to CAFOs, this is a symptom of a systemic issue in our regulatory process: many of them are discharging when they are not permitted as dischargers. They are not permitted to do so. This is one such example where this facility is discharging waste into our waterways, so DEQ should require them to come under a NPDES permit.”

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