Environmental Groups Take Legal Action Against Large Factory Farms

Environmental Groups Take Legal Action Against Large Factory Farms

7:59pm Apr 15, 2015
The sudden boom of chicken farms like this one near Shoals, N.C. is causing concerns for people who live near the sites. They say the stench is impacting their quality of life.
Keri Brown

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday that could impact industrial meat producers. A coalition of environmental groups is suing the EPA, challenging the agency’s special concessions for large factory farms.

The suit claims that the public is denied information about hazardous pollutants released from animal waste.

Earth Justice filed the action on behalf of the Center for Food Safety, the Environmental Integrity Project, the Humane Society of the United States, the Sierra Club and the Waterkeeper Alliance.

“We know the industry is releasing ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that can be harmful to human health, but because of the U.S. EPA’s actions, the public, researchers and the government lack the basic information necessary to protect human health from these hazardous releases,” says Kelly Foster, senior attorney with the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Terry Marshall lives in Surry County and he says his dream home is surrounded by chicken farms. He’s concerned about his property and his health.

“It smells like a lot of ammonia and often times just like dead rotting meat,” says Marshall. "These smells surround your house and, unfortunately for some of my neighbors, the smell gets in their house and they can’t escape it. We have neighbors with respiratory ailments and they all say it’s been difficult for them.”

Marshall says he also wants to see zoning regulations for the industry, since factory farms are popping up near parks, churches and other community sites in the county.

Poultry production is growing in North Carolina. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 7,363 poultry farms in 2012, compared with around 6,598 in 2007.

Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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