Murphy-Brown, LLC held accountable for 11-year-old deal
A federal judge has presented a major pork producer, Murphy-Brown, LLC, with a court order to adhere to an 11-year-old agreement the company had entered into regarding the cleaning of water pollution resulting from their operations.
U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard ordered the company to remedy problems that were originally identified in 2011 at 11 sites owned and operated by Murphy-Brown. Both parties must agree upon a consultant tasked with developing concrete plans for the necessary water clean up. Murphy-Brown had blocked potential consultants from analyzing and assessing the 11 sites over the past three years.
The primary pollutants their various plants regularly produce include significant quantities of manure and urine which are sent from barns to open-air waste ponds called lagoons. The water found in these lagoons is often repurposed as fertilizer. However, the issues at hand identify specific cases of lagoon leakage and increased levels of nitrogen gas.
The judge’s order stemmed from added pressure following environmentalists recently taking Murphy-Brown to court relating to its failure in upholding the original 2006 agreement.
Murphy-Brown, based in North Carolina, is a subsidiary group of Smithfield Foods Inc., which is owned by the Chinese company that exists as the largest pork producer in the world.
Smithfield Foods Vice President Stewart Leeth claims the company’s farms, facilities, and procedures are adherent to current law. “Over the last 10 years 260 company-owned or operated farms or facilities were studied for potential risk. Of those 260, nearly all were eliminated from further study,” Leeth said. “No evidence of groundwater contamination was found. The farms in question have simply been identified through review of data and paperwork.”
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, North Carolina pork operations account for $2.3 billion of a nationwide $21 billion industry total.