Smithfield Foods Ordered to Pay Nearly $500 Million Over Pollution
The world’s largest pig slaughterhouse, and currently owned by China’s WH Group, has been fined close to five hundred million dollars, which will be awarded to local residents. It is a joyous occasion and finally gives voices to the people living close to this companies activities.
The plaintiffs in the suit alleged that the company failed to cease the “the obnoxious, recurrent odors and other causes of nuisance” from its hog farms, which the lawsuit said, “generate many times more sewage than entire towns.”
Pig farms such as Smithfield foods, routinely operate open-air pits to store the animal waste of thousands of pigs that are housed there. The farms then empty the pits into the fields using spray methods, despite complaints from residents, and the controversy that surrounds the practice. Smithfield farms were also to have alleged to have left the pits open, without an attempt to mitigate the odors, as they have practiced in other areas in the country.
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Another jury found Smithfield Foods liable of pollution in North Carolina, where they were ordered to pay out seventy-five million in damages, yet, that was reduced. Which may be the case in this judgment. As the state limits punitive damages awarded to ninety-five million.
North Carolina’s pork industry has been swift in retaliating; Republican Senator Thom Tillis and U.S. Rep. David Rouzer say they may take legislation to Washington to help protect the industry.
“Today’s nuisance lawsuits that are destroying livelihoods and communities in North Carolina are the tip of the iceberg for what is to come to absent a well-informed public and good public policy,” Rouzer said in a statement. “This is a very slippery slope that threatens the very existence of every form of agriculture nationwide.”
The North Carolina Pork Council also voiced disappointment, calling for an appeal.
“This verdict will spread from eastern North Carolina to all corners of American agriculture,” the group said.
But environmental advocates say it’s about time companies such as Smithfield Foods are held responsible.
“These juries are repeatedly seeing problems with the kind of waste management that’s used,” Cassie Gavin, a lobbyist with the North Carolina Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Clearly it’s time for the state and the industry to take a hard look at their waste management and modernize it so the public is protected.”
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