RALEIGH -- A federal judge is telling a major pork producer to live up to an agreement it signed 11 years ago and work on cleaning up water pollution tied to almost a dozen industry-scale hog operations.
U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard this week ordered Murphy-Brown LLC to end a three-year delay and have a mutually agreed consultant develop plans to fix problems at 11 sites in in Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Pitt, Sampson and Scotland counties.
Environmentalists say the independent expert found groundwater contamination or waste lagoon problems at the operations.
A Murphy-Brown spokeswoman and the company's attorneys didn't respond Tuesday to messages seeking comment.
Murphy-Brown is the North Carolina-based livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., which is owned by the Chinese company that is the world's largest pork producer.