In this file:


·         Environmentalists: Smithfield needs to get rid of lagoons and spray fields

·         Smithfield Foods’s Sustainable Energy Partnership with Dominion Energy



Environmentalists: Smithfield needs to get rid of lagoons and spray fields

Environmental groups say Smithfield’s plans to cover hog lagoons and add digesters don’t solve contamination and health problems caused by large-scale farms in Eastern North Carolina.


by Greg Barnes, North Carolina Health News

January 10, 2019


For many, Smithfield Foods’ plans to turn hog waste into renewable natural gas is a welcome sign of progress for a company that has been vilified by environmentalists almost since it opened a slaughterhouse in the small town of Tar Heel in 1992.


Twenty-six years later, thousands of farmers who started raising hogs for Smithfield during that time are still using uncovered lagoons to store hog waste and spraying the nitrogen-rich excess onto their fields.


Last month, largely because of that lagoon-and-sprayfield system, the company that oversees Smithfield’s hog production operations lost its fourth straight federal lawsuit to neighbors of hog farms, who say odors, flies and mist from the sprayfields are upending their lives.


In all, 26 lawsuits involving nearly 500 people have been filed against Smithfield’s hog-production arm, Murphy-Brown. So far, the plaintiffs have been awarded nearly a half-billion dollars, though the amounts were reduced substantially because of a state law capping damages.


To say 2018 was a bad year for Smithfield would be a huge understatement. In September, Hurricane Florence dumped as much as 30 inches of rain over southeastern North Carolina, where most of the farmers under contract with the company are located. The hurricane damaged six hog lagoons and caused 33 more to top their banks, releasing vast amounts of untreated hog waste into rivers and streams. An estimated 5,500 hogs died during the storm.


A month after the hurricane struck, Smithfield announced that it would add covers and anaerobic digesters to hog lagoons on 90 percent of finishing farms in North Carolina, Utah and Missouri within 10 years.


The world’s largest hog producer says the covers and digesters will be used to turn hog waste into renewable natural gas, partly to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025 by capturing 85,000 tons of methane each year to generate biogas. That’s the equivalent of removing 900,000 cars from the roads.


Smithfield says there are other advantages to covering the lagoons and adding digesters, including reducing sludge, odors and the risk of lagoons flooding during major storms.


That may be true, environmental groups counter, but they argue that covers and digesters only apply a Band-Aid; they don’t solve the problem.


“Nothing is cheaper than an unlined hole in the ground,” said Will Hendrick, staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance and manager of the North Carolina Pure Farms, Pure Waters Campaign. “By and large, Smithfield has dug their heels in claiming there is nothing they can do differently.


“They know better, and they have the money to fix it.”


Problems will continue ...


Covers add nitrogen to lagoons ...


New technology needed ...


Why now? ...


more, including links



Smithfield Foods’s Sustainable Energy Partnership with Dominion Energy


Ambrogio Visconti, North America Legal Chronicle

January 10, 2019       


Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP represented Smithfield Foods in the creation of Align Renewable Natural Gas, a $250 million joint venture with Dominion Energy that will capture waste methane from hog farms and convert it into renewable natural gas, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.


By capturing methane that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and providing the conditioned gas to homes and businesses, joint venture projects will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from hog farms, reduce consumption of natural gas from traditional sources, and improve environmental quality.


The initial projects of Align Renewable Natural Gas will take place in North Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Align RNG will use anaerobic digestion technology to capture and process methane from Smithfield’s company-owned and contract hog farms. Once collected at the farms, the natural gas will be transported to a central conditioning facility, where it will be converted into RNG to be used to provide heat and power to homes and businesses.


Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy have committed to invest up to $250 million...