By Kirby, David

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Dead fish were turning up, and the entire area was an environmental disaster zone. ” Karen cried. “I knew they would mess up that cesspool. ” It was neither a joyous nor a victorious emotion. Karen had tried to stop this from happening. She recalled that back in 1997, before the dairy was built, she had naively thought she could talk Dave Inskeep out of his plans. She had invited him over one day to talk “neighbor to neighbor” over coffee. “Don’t do this, Dave,” she pleaded. ” But Inskeep’s mind was made up.

Rick and Todd realized that anywhere they got wet, they got lesions. Whatever was killing the fish was now stalking them. Then, in 1990, more than two million fish perished in the Neuse River from August through October. These are the months that the menhaden gather for their annual exodus to the Atlantic. Rick knew that the massive fish migration is nature’s way of exporting excess nutrients out of the Neuse River Basin. Throughout the year, young menhaden gorge themselves on tons of plant material that end up in creeks and streams feeding the river and estuary.

So what was becoming of all that crap? Dry-lot waste was left to cake in the sun and periodically scooped away with front loaders. Waste from the barns and the milking parlors was flushed into the lagoons. Before planting and after the fall harvest, farmers sprayed the liquefied waste onto their fields, spewing gases, pathogens, and particles into the semidesert air. The odor had been horrendous around the valley, though thankfully it had not reached the Reddout household—until now. And though Helen had joined with other neighbors to politely express concern over the smell, one dairyman had growled back at them.

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Animal Factory by Kirby, David

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