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North Carolina Nonprofit Receives $100,000 Grant to Reduce Residents’ Exposure to Pollution from Hog Farms


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded $100,000 to the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), a nonprofit organization in Warsaw, N.C., for work to reduce residents’ exposure to air and water contaminants associated with local hog operations in Duplin County.

The award is part of EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program, which supports environment and public health improvements in low-income communities around the nation. Since 1994, the EPA has provided over $31 million in funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations. The REACH project is one of 10 being funded this year nationwide.

Through the grant, REACH will work to reduce the exposure of residents to water and air pollution from local hog operations, particularly hydrogen sulfide, in the Duplin County area. Typically, hog feces and urine are flushed out of barns and into open-air lagoons. Solids then settle in the bottom of the lagoons and the upper layer of liquid is sprayed on crop fields.

Hog waste is a significant source of water pollution because heavy rain and flooding can cause lagoons to overflow and the fields on which waste is sprayed leak polluted runoff into streams, rivers and wells. Hog waste also contributes to air pollution because the breakdown of the waste produces methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. Relatively small quantities of hydrogen sulfide is released into the atmosphere during decomposition of hog manure, however, it is the most toxic of manure gases and has smells of rotten eggs.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, there are 3,000 swine operations in North Carolina with 9.4 million hogs and pigs. The state produces an additional 1 million annually, making it the second biggest swine producer in the country behind Iowa. REACH staff will encourage Duplin County hog operations to comply with environmental laws and will provide incentives for operations to utilize new technologies that will eliminate the need for lagoons and spray fields.

Financial assistance under the EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program is available to all nonprofit organizations designated by the IRS or recognized by the state, territory, commonwealth or tribe in which it is located. The purpose of the funding is to assist affected communities so that they can develop proactive, strategic and visionary approaches to address their environmental justice issues and to achieve community health and sustainability.


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