Local News

Underground pipeline for methane gas proposed in eastern NC

Posted November 18, 2020 7:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 10:01 p.m. EST

— A joint venture between pork producer Smithfield and Dominion Energy would create an underground 30-mile pipeline in Eastern North Carolina, carrying methane gas from hog farms to a facility in Duplin County.

Align RNG, the company formed by the two giants, said the project will reduce greenhouse gases.

According to the company, the biogas processing facility will collect methane gas from 19 hog farms in the area through underground pipelines and convert the gas into electricity that will heat more than 3,000 homes and businesses.

"We are capturing the methane that is produced from the hog manure, and we’re putting it to good use to heat people’s homes and businesses," said Aaron Ruby, Align RNG’s spokesperson, "instead of allowing it to be released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change."

Jennifer Daniels is a hog farmer in Sampson County and a member of the Pork Council. Daniels said Sampson County’s livelihood depends on the hog industry.

"If you were to pull the pork production out of Sampson county, it would be devastating for our economy," she said.

Daniels was one of more than 200 participants that joined a virtual public hearing for the project’s air quality permit. She spoke in support of the Align RNG project.

"We’re not a part of the project, but I just like the idea of the future of it," said Daniels. "It would help sustain our economy and sustain our environment."

Ruby said both the farmers who sell their methane gas and the people who allow the pipes to run on their properties will be compensated. But those who lives near the hog farms involved in the project are not sold on the idea.

"Why don’t they pick another area, besides this one, there’s enough in this area already," said Larry Faison, who has lived in Sampson County for most of his life.

Faison said the hog farms came to Sampson County nearly three decades ago, bringing the odor with them. Faison said the odor comes and goes, but tends to sit heavily at night.

"I don’t know, something about [nighttime], that odor will settle down," he said.

Faison said in Turkey – the town in Sampson County where he lives with his family – many have lost trust in the establishment. He hesitates to believe this project won’t make the odor worse.

"They’re out there for the dollar and I understand that, but they’re not thinking about the people," he said.

WRAL reached out to the Department of Environment Control to ask about the project. Regulators say Align RNG’s air quality permit meets the standards of the Clean Air Act.

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