hog lagoon

biogas
Dave DeWitt

To a visitor, the hog houses down a dusty dirt road outside Magnolia, North Carolina look like any other hog houses.

Here in Duplin County, there are low-slung buildings like this one around every bend, filled with hundreds of thousands of hogs. But this facility is different—just how different can be found down the hill behind the building.

Manure, flowing from the hog house, falls out of a pipe and into an open-air cement tank. From here, it goes to a much larger, circular, blue tank called a digestor.

hog farm
Steve Wing, UNC-Chapel Hill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching an investigation into the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

The investigation will look at whether DENR was too lenient in regulating hog farms that are located near minority households. 

Residents and environmental groups have complained for years that collecting manure in lagoons before spraying onto fields is harmful and creates noxious fumes.