A Columbus County North Carolina pork producer was sentenced to six months in prison this week for discharging hog waste into a stream that feeds a nearby river. William Freedman, and Freedman Farms, Inc., pleaded guilty to the discharge that occurred in December 2007.

Freedman also was sentenced to serve six months of probation, fined $500,000 and ordered to pay $925,000 in restitution.

“Our inspectors estimated that 180,000 gallons of waste was discharged, based on the amount that the waste level of the lagoon had dropped,” according to Keith Larick, supervisor, animal feeding operations unit, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “We assessed a civil penalty for the discharge in 2008.”

Due to the size of the discharge and the circumstances, inspectors felt that the discharge may not have been an accident, according to Larick. “Our staff was interviewed as part of that process, but the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency handled the criminal investigation.” The farms is permitted for 4,800 feeder-to-finish swine.

A different farm owned by Freedman was assessed a civil penalty for a discharge in 2005, according to Larick.