COMFORT, N.C. (WNCT) — The owner of a Jones County pig farm was fined more than $60,000 after he discharged nearly one million gallons of hog waste into a nearby wooded area, according to the N.C. Department of Environment Quality.
The DEQ cites Douglas L. Lanier with multiple violations of his farm’s general permit, including a condition not to discharge wastewater from hog waste lagoons into surface water.
“Our investigation revealed this to be an egregious violation of state laws and we will hold the responsible party accountable,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, in a news release. “It is totally unacceptable and illegal for someone to knowingly discharge contaminated wastewater that threatened our rivers and streams.
Officials began their investigation August 31 after receiving an anonymous tip.
They estimated 987,440 gallons of wastewater were illegally discharged from the lagoon at the farm near Comfort.
The DEQ said contaminants from wastewater eventually made its way to an unnamed tributary of the Trent River 1.5 miles away.
Testing revealed high levels of wastewater in samples collected in the tributary of the Trent River and on the farm property, DEQ officials said, but there were no reported impacts to public water supplies.
The DEQ said the amount of the fine is based on factors including the amount of money the operator saved by not complying with state laws, the operator’s failure to report the illegal discharge to DEQ, the amount of wastewater discharged and the extent of the environmental damage.
DEQ officials said they also found “severe ponding (of wastewater) and runoff” at the facility.
This was not Lanier’s first environmental violation. The DEQ said his fine took into account previous environmental violations, including environmental citations DEQ issued in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Lanier has 30 days to respond to DEQ’s fine assessment document by paying the fine, filling an appeal or requesting a reduction of the penalty amount.