Rose Acre Farms Operating Without a Permit
A long-standing dispute between Rose Acre Farms and NC regulators just got more interesting in 2016. What seems like déjà vu, Rose Acre Farms, a massive egg laying facility located in Hyde County and within 1/2 mile of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, has filed a petition for a contested case hearing in state court. This comes on the heels of a Notice of Violation issued to the company for operating the facility without a permit. (Read more at Washington Daily News)
Rose Acre Farms had been operating under a pollutant discharge permit (called an NPDES permit) as required by the Clean Water Act since it opened its doors in 2004. The State Division of Water Resources (DWR) renewed their permit in 2009, but Rose Acre Farms challenged that permit attempting to instead operate under a Non-Discharge Permit, which would greatly limit state oversight, monitoring and any public transparency as to the impact of their operation on the waters of the Tar-Pamlico River Basin. Since that time, the State, Sound Rivers, Earthjustice, the Friends of Pocosin Lakes and Waterkeeper Alliance have vigorously defended the permit.
In an interesting twist, Rose Acre Farms dismissed their 2009 legal challenge in August of 2015. After that, the company applied for a state Non-discharge permit, not a NPDES permit as the state requires. The State denied Rose Acre requests to process the non-discharge permit application, twice. When Rose Acre Farms continued to refuse to apply for the correct permit, DWR issued Rose Acres a Notice of Violation for operating without a permit. As of March 17, 2016 it is unclear if DWR will issue a civil penalty to the company or shut them down for operating without a permit.
Background on Rose Acre Farms and their Hyde County Facility
- Requiring a discharge permit offers a significant amount of transparency to the public, requires water monitoring and an annual report submitted to the State. That would all disappear without a discharge permit. A non-discharge permit would not offer the level of protection, transparency or require any monitoring.
- When Rose Acre Farm announced they were coming to Hyde County, they stated they were going to be a good neighbor, be transparent and operate under a permit. As you know, they challenged the State’s authority to issue a permit in 2009 and again in 2016.
- This is a massive egg-laying operation, permitted for 4 million birds, with a current population of approximately 3.5 million hens. The largest in the state by far.
- The state has a significant amount of water quality data that demonstrates the operation is polluting the water around the facility and is discharging nutrient and bacteria pollution. The company’s own consultants admit that a large amount of atmospheric nitrogen is being deposited in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, impacting the public waters. That area is very important to our coastal tourism, which is a critical component of our economy here in Eastern North Carolina.