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Hog farm ordered to pay for wetlands preservation

RALEIGH (AP) — A North Carolina hog farm operator has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in fines and restitution for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced Wednesday that $1 million in restitution paid by Freedman Farms will be provided to the N.C. Coastal Land Trust to buy and preserve wetlands.

Walker was joined in Raleigh by Ignacia S. Moreno, the assistant attorney general overseeing the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“The court-ordered restitution in this case will conserve wetlands for the benefit of the people of North Carolina,” Moreno said. “By enforcing the nation’s environmental laws, we will continue to ensure that concentrated animal feeding operations operate without threatening our drinking water, the health of our communities and the environment.”

A federal judge in February ordered Clarkton-based Freedman to pay the restitution and an additional $500,000 fine after the company was found guilty of dumping of untreated hog waste in 2007 into a stream leading to wetlands and then the Waccamaw River. The Clean Water Act makes it illegal to knowingly discharge pollutants.

Freedman Farms president William B. Freedman was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by six months of home confinement. The company will pay the restitution over five years. The first payment is due in January.

The non-profit N.C. Coastal Land Trust, which has preserved 50,000 acres to help provide clean water and wildlife habitat, will use the money to purchase and restore streams and wetlands in the area affected by the Freedman spill.

“The Waccamaw is unique and wild,” said Camilla M. Herlevich, the director of the land trust. “It’s watershed includes some of the most extensive cypress gum swamps in the state, and its headwaters at Lake Waccamaw contain fish that are found nowhere else on Earth.”

 

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