Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted into record by C. Chris Chandler as part of public comment during Monday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting.
I would like to submit a few words for public record and as I am unable to attend I would like this letter to be read into the minutes. My name is Charles Christian Chandler. My family on my father’s side goes back eleven generations in Accomack County starting in 1660. I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore for nearly thirty years. I presently reside in Norfolk. I have been employed in the field of Civil Engineering for almost thirty years. I currently work for the City of Norfolk Public Works in the planning and design department, serving Architectural, Civil Site, Structural, Storm Water maintenance and run off and Transportation in the capacity of technical and research support. I am very familiar with Tidewater zoning criteria, setback ordinances and wetland mitigation. I understand the purpose of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act and Best Management Practices and about how they work together. Since my time is limited I will have to be brief. I will have to trust that you folks have done your homework and know what an AFO (Animal Feeding Operation) and a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is and the difference between them.
I am sure you will hear tonight how the industry will monitor their infrastructure implementation for increased CFAOs. And that they will have in place strong management practices that will practically guarantee a safe and responsible coexistence with more chicken houses. The rhetoric will include less water usage today, due to advances in water use efficiency. You will hear how the costs will outweigh the risks. But what are the costs of a failed CFAO? What are the risks and the consequences of concentrating chicken houses on small parcels of land? These are the concerns I would like to raise to the board.
I am hopeful that the board is familiar with the effects of a mismanaged CFAO. One of the major issues of a poorly maintained CFAO is improper leaching. For generations, Northampton County has had septic use as its main method for waste management. Leaching is the practice of storage of waste to procure a clean by-product re-introduction to the groundwater over a period of time. If too much waste seeps into the ground water source too soon, you have a contaminated water source unsuitable for drinking, bathing and cooking. Northampton County already has issues with septic leaching, and added CFAO’s will contribute to the stress of your groundwater systems. There are dozens of case studies that reflect CFAO’s gone wrong which you can review at NEPIS.EPA.GOV. These CFAO’s include hog, cattle, and poultry feeding and warehousing. One of the notes on this site reads. “When improperly managed, the manure can pose substantial risks to the environment and public health.” It went on to state that any large CAFOs (125,000 chickens or more) are automatically subject to EPA regulation; medium CAFOs must also meet one of two ‘method of discharge’ criteria to be defined as a CAFO (medium 37,500 to 124,999 chickens). I just want to submit that for the record. I also encourage interested parties to go on line and research Penn State University’s studies on CAFO’s sampled from the state of Pennsylvania and the Upper Delmarva Peninsula.
So, the risks are well documented. And I again implore you, the board and interested parties to slow down and weigh the cost of failure. One example I would like to present from the USGS website is the case of Chincoteague Island. The Town of Chincoteague has to pipe water five miles from wells at the NASA facility on Wallops Island, because the island’s own groundwater has been polluted. Is it any wonder, the poultry industry presently has no chicken housing factories on the island of Chincoteague? They once raised chickens there. In the 1930’s its main business, other than seafood, was raising chickens. In 1933 there were 9 million chickens on the Island when a hurricane came, killing all 9 million–washed them out of houses into streets and it took 2 weeks to haul them all off. That ended the chicken industry on Chincoteague – most of the chicken houses were converted into motel rooms. I found that on your Ghotes of Virginia website. How will the new CFAO’s manage during a major storm? What are the safety measures to be put in place to guard against the wash out of several million cubic yards of chicken waste, not to mention thousands of dead chickens? Are these questions being answered here tonight satisfactorily?
Lastly, I implore the board members here tonight to consider the fragile state of your groundwater, the vulnerability of your coastline to major storms and the risks involved with the storage (however permanent or temporary) of millions of cubic yards of animal by product. Should you lose the aquafer, it’s basically game over. I implore the citizenry to do your research and question the process by which the farming industry is trying to expand and what effect will it have on your general welfare and your future generations’ welfare. These members of the board have your future in their hands tonight. I ask that you reach out to each and every one of them from Granville F. Hogg, Jr. to Larry LeMond, Oliver H. Bennett, Rick Hubbard, and Laurence J. Trala and voice your concerns or your questions. I pray that this board seriously consider the potential for devastating consequences should this measure be passed.. Thank you for your time.