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Hog Farm Ordered to Pay $1.5 Million for Violations

PHOTO: A Columbia County North Carolina hog farm will pay one-point-five million dollars after a Department of Justice investigation found that they discharged hog waste into a stream that leads to the Waccamaw River.
PHOTO: A Columbia County North Carolina hog farm will pay one-point-five million dollars after a Department of Justice investigation found that they discharged hog waste into a stream that leads to the Waccamaw River.
July 26, 2012

YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. - A North Carolina hog farm will pay $1.5 million in fines and restitution for discharging hog waste into a stream that leads to the Waccamaw River in the southeastern part of the state.

Youngsville-based Freedman Farms pleaded guilty in court and will pay the money directly to the courts, $1 million of which will be distributed to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust for damage caused to the watershed.

Camilla Herlevich, the trust's director, says the funds will help her organization accomplish a lot for the region.

"What we intend to do is preserve more than $1 million worth of property, basically leverage this money with other forces of funds, which is something that actually we have a pretty good track record of doing."

Herlevich says the money comes at a time when state funding for the Land Trust is dwindling because of budget cuts. The money will go toward land acquisition and conservation along streams in the Waccamaw watershed.

The Southern Environmental Enforcement Network will also receive $75,000 from the fines.

The Clean Water Act prohibits companies from knowingly or negligently releasing a pollutant into a water source. Thomas Walker, a U.S. attorney with the Department of Justice, says his department doesn't believe Freedman Farms represents the industry.

"This certainly was not an indictment against the hog-farming industry. This was an intentional act of wrongdoing that harmed the environment."

Freedman Farms reportedly has about 4,800 hogs, being raised to sell at market. The company's president, William Freedman, was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Stephanie Carson/Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC