Murphy-Brown Farm near Ammon, in Bladen County, North Carolina, released nearly 30,000 gallons of pig waste which polluted the Little Turnbull Creek flowing into Turnbull Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River. The failure of a recirculation pipe is suspected to have discharged the untreated animal waste.
According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), its Division of Water Resources (DWR) is investigating the spill of animal waste, and “clean-up efforts are underway.” In a press release, the department said, “DWR staff conducted an on-site investigation. Waste was observed approximately 0.69 miles from the secondary containment on the facility. Waste in the creek appeared to be contained in the area by a beaver dam.”
On Friday 27th January 2023, clean-up crews began pumping waste from the creek and completed their work the following Monday. DWR will take action depending on the results of the investigation.
The Cape Fear River Watch, a nonprofit that aims to protect and improve the water quality of the Cape Fear River Basin for all people through education, advocacy and action, made its own investigation. On 1st February it wrote the following: “After we found out about the spill, we took water samples Monday morning above and below the facility. This was three days after the spill was reported and after the facility attempted to recover the waste by pumping it out of the stream. We had those samples analyzed by a state certified lab. The upstream samples showed 19 colonies of fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, well within safe levels. The downstream sample showed 220 colonies of fecal bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. Almost 12x more bacteria than upstream, and more bacteria than is deemed safe by NC DEQ. Samples taken earlier would certainly have showed much higher levels.”