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Impacts of Industrial Animal Production on Rivers and Estuaries

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The fouling of North Carolina's coastal waters by animal waste in the wake of Hurricane Floyd is the latest, and perhaps the most dramatic, chapter in a controversy over the environmental impact of factory-style swine and poultry operations, which have been expanding in coastal watersheds during the 1990s. Michael Mallin has been monitoring the often severe impacts of waste spills and everyday operations on marine life in the Cape Fear estuarine system since 1995. His data now cover three hurricane events (including Floyd) and suggest that the animal operations allowed under current state and federal regulations in the eastern and midwestern U.S. pose serious risks for water quality, safety and marine ecology.

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