Environmentalists worry that Florence will leave behind a toxic mess in North Carolina

Rick Dove is an environmental paparazzo operating at more than 1,000 feet above the ground.

A senior advisor with the Waterkeeper Alliance, he circles the floodwaters from Hurricane Florence in the back seat of a tiny propeller plane, gripping his camera while searching for toxic problems below.

Like a shutterbug hunting for a scandal-plagued celebrity, he points the pilot toward a hog farm near the overflowing Trent River in eastern North Carolina. There are two open-air lagoons where waste from the animals is deposited, and one appears to have been inundated.

Some of the manure may have escaped, seeping back into the river and contributing to hazards that environmentalists have been warning about since before Florence made landfall Friday morning.

“They said they fixed it so it wouldn’t happen again,” said Dove, 79. “Well, Mother Nature had different ideas.”

Hog farms are one of the most problematic environmental challenges after Florence dumped a historic amount of rain on the region, but they’re far from the only one. Advocates have been keeping a close eye on coal ash basins, where the residue from power plants is stored, and toxic sites across the state. Floodwaters can rise high enough to mix with contaminants and then deposit them back into rivers and wetlands that provide drinking water and natural habitats.

Read the entire article at LAtimes.com