On Thursday August 31, 2017, a spill into a waterway adjacent to Laniers’ Farms TBC, Inc. in Trenton, NC was reported to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Permit requirements state that spills must be reported within 24 hours of discovering the spill. A written report must be filed within 5 days of the incident that includes: an estimate of the cause, volume and spread of the spill, an analysis of the type of waste, and plans for repair/mitigation of the area. It has now been over a week, and these findings have not been reported.
The facility has two manure lagoons and is permitted for 7,450 hogs. Waste lagoons contain a mixture of feces, urine, water and other contaminants. Industry sources report that the spill was not from the lagoon itself, but from a broken wastewater pipe at a field where the raw feces and urine is sprayed. It is thought that the cause is due to over application or to a burst pipe in the spraying system.
It is troubling that the public does not have any firm answers as to the cause or the extent of the spill — and that DEQ will not be able to conduct a full investigation until a week after it occurred. DEQ officials say they have taken water samples from affected areas, but results will not be available for three weeks. In the meantime, Sound Rivers on Tuesday collected our own water samples from the Trent River at the Chinquapin Chapel Road crossing on Tuesday.
Katy Langley, Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, said, “It’s been a full week since a large spill of raw swine feces and urine contaminated the Trent River and one of its tributaries. We still do not know the full extent of the damage of this spill nor the cause of the spill because DEQ has yet to complete its full investigation. This industrial facility has a history of violations resulting in the pollution of our water. This spill occurred during a major recreational holiday, and a week later the public is still in the dark.”