September 17, 2003
U.S.'s North Carolina Pig Industry Gets Ready For Hurricane Isabel
As thousands in the rural districts of North Carolina, USA evacuated their homes in anticipation for hurricane Isabel, the state's farmers were preparing for the worst - hog waste pollution.
Memories of 1999's Hurricane Floyd played up images of damage to hundreds of thousands of cattle, poultry and pigs, as heavy rain beating down saw waste lagoons spill manure and animal waste into rivers and water supplies.
The state's large factory farms line close to the Atlantic Coast, making them susceptible to hurricane lashes. Most of the animal waste from the farms are stored in huge lagoons.
Industry officials said on Tuesday producers were making sure that the fluid levels in their lagoons are lower while making sure that emergency plans to prevent spillage, power cuts and lack of livestock feed were put in place.
The hurricane was still hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic Ocean but steady movement would bring it ashore on Thursday on North Carolina's fragile Outer Banks. On Tuesday morning, Isabel's top winds were around 105 mph (170 kph).
Forecasters said the storm is still expected to produce five to 10 inches of rain over a few hours time on Thursday, which could cause flash flooding.
Managing waste lagoons is a difficult business and the state has seen polluting spills in the past. One spill in 1995 dumped more than 22 million gallons of animal waste into one of the state's rivers.