The editorial board of the New York Times published an op-ed yesterday that condemned North Carolina pig farmers for polluting the state with noxious waste. The piece pointed out that 14 lagoons filled with untreated waste comprised of pig feces and urine flooded after Hurricane Matthew, saying that “the waste can carry E. coli, salmonella, cryptosporidium, and other bacteria that can lead to serious illness or death if they spread to humans.” The mixing of waste with groundwater can kill fish, destroy surrounding ecosystems, and result in contamination of drinking water for three million residents. “Even under normal conditions, lagoons can produce dangerous gases, noxious smells, and dust containing hog waste,” the board said before pointing to common hazards—such as diarrhea, increased risk of asthma, eye irritation, and depression—posing a risk to populations that live near farms. The board urged residents to put pressure on pig farmers to change their waste-disposal methods. “Unless North Carolina and other states require agriculture companies to change their waste-disposal methods,” the editorial board said, “what happened after Hurricane Matthew will happen again.” Last week, the world’s largest pork plant Smithfield announced that despite the devastation in the area, the company would resume operations as usual.
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