Pig Poop Lagoons Are Huge Polluters. A ‘Green’ Solution Might Make Them Dirtier.

The world’s largest pork processor says it has a “green” solution that could cover up some of the enormous pits. But not everyone is convinced.


by Emma Ockerman, VICE

October 6, 2021


For decades, the pollution seeping out of industrial hog operations’ manure cesspools has made life hell for the Black, Latino, and Native American communities living in eastern North Carolina.


Some residents have said the smell of the pig waste—which is stored in “lagoons” before it’s broken down and sprayed onto fields—makes them prisoners in their own homes. People living in the shadow of massive swine farms also have previously reported headaches, coughing, diarrhea, and burning eyes, among other issues, and tend to have poorer health outcomes than those who live further away.


Now, the world’s largest pork processor says it has a “green” solution that could cover up some of the enormous pits and potentially reduce their horrific odor.


Not everyone is convinced, though. According to a complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of local civil rights groups, the company’s plans could make pollution in the area—and its associated health problems—even worse.


Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods wants to capture the methane from the poop lagoons at some of its swine operations to produce biogas, a renewable fuel made from the byproducts of organic waste, in partnership with electric utility Dominion Energy. The joint venture, called Align RNG, says the project will take the equivalent of 36,000 cars off the road every year by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions or have the same benefits as planting 2.7 million new trees annually.


Environmental activists, however, argue...


‘It’s just a money thing’ ...


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