Surveys, reports continue to show limited impacts from Hurricane Dorian

UPDATE: Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, at 4:30 p.m.

Surveying by regulators and the North Carolina pork industry continues to indicate that impacts to or from pig farms in North Carolina from Hurricane Dorian has been limited.

There are no reports of a breach, structural damage, overtopping, or inundations involving the roughly 3,300 anaerobic treatment lagoons in use on farms in the state as a result of the severe storm.

Industry officials have reported to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality several instances of “high freeboard,” which means the measured level from the top of the lagoon down to the level of the contents is less than 19 inches. In two known instances, the freeboard was less than 12 inches. About 15 farms have reported lagoon freeboard that is less than 19 inches – but most were within one or two inches of that level. Farmers will take action to manage the nutrients in accordance with state rules and regulations to ensure there is ample freeboard.

N.C. DEQ has reported contacts with more than 50 swine farms – most from farmers who contacted the agency to report that on-farm systems were operating as expected and in compliance with rules and regulations.

Some areas of the state experienced 10 inches to 14 inches of rain during the hurricane. This caused flooding in some areas, and also caused other impacts, such as spills from wastewater systems. In Johnston County, for example, officials reported a spill of 640,000 gallons of sewage into Mill Creek in Selma. In Morehead City, more than 210,000 gallons were spilled. Near Elizabeth City, about 100,000 gallons was spilled, according to N.C. DEQ. In Warsaw, about 70,000 gallons spilled.