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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate
Date: October 14, 1999
Contact: Tom Mather (919) 715-7408
Distribution: Targeted

EMC Adopts Permanent Animal Odor Control Rules

RALEIGH -- The N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) today adopted permanent rules for controlling odors from animal operations. The final rules, approved by a 14-1 vote, are similar to temporary odor rules the EMC adopted in February, with changes that resulted from public comments.

The commission listened to comments it received from farmers, people living near animal operations, and environmental groups to develop permanent odor rules that should be more effective and practical than the temporary rules, according to Bill Holman, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"These rules should help reduce odors from livestock operations without placing undue burdens or expenses on farmers," Holman said. "But the long-term solution is to convert animal operations to more effective waste-treatment systems that produce fewer odors."

The rules, which take effect July 1, 2000, establish required management practices that animal operations must follow, if they meet certain size thresholds and use liquid waste-disposal systems. Large hog operations account for most of the facilities that must comply with the rules, although some dairy and poultry farms also are affected.

Only those animal operations using liquid waste-treatment systems, such as lagoons and sprayfields, are covered by the rules. Regulated facilities must contain at least 250 hogs, 100 cattle, 75 horses, 1,000 sheep, or 30,000 chickens or turkeys. The rules do not apply to smaller facilities or those with dry litter operations, which include most poultry farms.

The state Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will enforce the rules, which aim to reduce objectionable odors beyond the boundaries of animal operations, phased-in by increasing levels of control. As a first step, all animal operations that meet the size thresholds and use liquid waste systems must comply with a list of required management practices. For example, farms should not operate sprayfields when winds could cause wastewater to drift onto neighboring properties.

As a second step, the DAQ will require farms to prepare detailed best management plans for controlling odors at all new or modified animal operations and existing facilities that cause objectionable odors. These best management plans will contain a list of low-cost actions for reducing odors. If objectionable odors persist, facilities will have to submit modified plans and could be required to install odor-control equipment, such as lagoon covers or "wash walls" that filter odors using barn ventilation systems.

During the summer, the EMC held four public hearings across the state to gauge public reaction to the proposed odor rules. Comments received from these hearings and written remarks prompted the commission to make a number of changes to the temporary rule. Notable changes in the final rule include:

  • Some large animal operations (those with more than 1 million pounds of animals and located less than 3,000 feet from occupied property) must submit detailed descriptions of their odor control measures, regardless of whether they have had odor problems.

  • Animal operations will be able to revise their best management plans only once (instead of twice in the temporary rules) before having to install control devices.

  • Two of the seven required management practices in the temporary rule were dropped. One of these measures would have required covers on barn flush tanks; the other would have required submerged pipes where wastewater enters a lagoon. Many farmers complained at the hearings that these two requirements would be impractical and would not prevent odors.

More information about the odor rules and other air quality issues can be found at the DAQ's web site, http://daq.state.nc.us/.

N.C. Division of Air Quality
Alan W. Klimek, Director
1641 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1641
Tom Mather, Public Information Officer
(919)715-7408, FAX (919)715-7175
tom.mather@ncmail.net

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Last Modified: Fri March 15 20:31:47 2002
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