RALEIGH – State environmental officials today ordered a Beaufort County hog farm to prepare a detailed odor management plan, in the first regulatory action taken under North Carolina’s new rules for controlling odors from animal operations.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ) notified Vanguard Farms that it must prepare a “best management plan” for controlling objectionable odors at its hog operation near Chocowinity, about 10 miles south of Washington, N.C. A best management plan, or BMP, is a detailed description of measures for controlling odors.
“Hopefully, this management plan will help Vanguard Farms identify ways to correct its odor problems,” said Keith Overcash, DAQ deputy director. “We are optimistic that the farm can carry out low-cost measures to address these odor problems.”
Under the state odor rules, requiring a BMP is the first regulatory action the DAQ can take after determining that a facility has caused objectionable odors. If the odor problems persist, the DAQ eventually could require the farm to install control equipment, such as lagoon covers or “wash walls” that filter odors from barn ventilation systems.
The DAQ took action in the Vanguard case based on observations by air quality inspectors after receiving numerous complaints from nearby residents. Under the action, Vanguard must submit a BMP to the state within 90 days, and the DAQ has 90 more days to approve the plan. After approval, the farm would have 30 days to come into compliance with the plan. The DAQ can fine facilities up to $10,000 per violation for failing to comply with the rules.
The N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) adopted temporary odor rules in 1999 under a directive from the General Assembly, with permanent rules scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2000. The rules apply to animal operations using liquid waste-treatment systems, such as lagoons and sprayfields. Regulated facilities must contain at least 250 hogs, 100 cattle, 75 horses, 1,000 sheep, or 30,000 chickens or turkeys.
DAQ enforces the rules, which aim to reduce objectionable odors beyond the boundaries of animal operations, phased-in by increasing levels of control. As a first step, all animal operations that meet the size thresholds and use liquid waste systems must comply with a list of required management practices. For example, farms should not operate sprayfields when winds could cause wastewater to drift onto neighboring properties.
As a second step, the DAQ requires farms to prepare best management plans at all new or modified animal operations and existing facilities that the division determines are causing objectionable odors. If objectionable odors persist, the DAQ can require facilities to submit modified plans and install odor-control equipment, such as lagoon covers or air filtration systems for barns.