2018 Campaign Request - Tracking run-off from CAFOs after Hurricane Florence


Hi Fellow Nodders!
While the state of NC drains from historic flooding due to Florence, some of us are very concerned about animal waste ponds from CAFOs (Cage Animal Feeding Operations) being destroyed, causing an environmental and health catastrophe. In addition to animal waste being distributed through flooding, we now must contend with millions of dead and decaying pigs and chickens.

I’m not sure if this is the right area, but is it possible to start a campaign to determine the spread of this waste to see how far it has spread from the origination site? Is that kind of satellite imagery available? There is publicly available data on where CAFOs are located. Tracking waste from these sites would be possible with the right imagery.

Thanks for your input!

After the Hurricane
After the Hurricane

I will add @Mel_Nod to this thread and she should be able to answer your questions.


Many of us are waiting to see what Florence kicks up for us to monitor, but it takes time for the weather to clear in order to get clearer images… and there needs to be a need for the data… It will come I’m sure…

Meanwhile, I’ll point out the three lines at the upper right which list listing selections… but at the bottom of that list there is a listing for a FAQ… which will answer a lot of questions re how to request a search/ survey…

I agree fully that CAFOs and even regular farms can be a pollution problem… add human waste disposals, industrial chemical storage and disposal sites and so forth… and the problem is huge. Knowing locations is good and could be used to reference… however it may be hard to tell given the amount of mixing of contaminants in the wild… do you know what type of imagery works for your proposal… our source has flexibility, but if you know that should be included to save time… and for practical purposes, it may end up as part of an ‘other possible damage’ tag showing no more than whether that facility and other types is intact or damaged… due to TN limitations… I know we have looked for oil slicks etc. in open ocean and in rivers… but not sure about flooded land with vegetation… anyway we have to see what is possible and TN does that after they get the request… I’m sure they are looking at the overall hurricane damage thing… keep gathering your ideas though, you are correct, it is time to get that sorted out…

Edit: Sorry, I hadn’t been there for a bit… they don’t seem to have the request stuff there that I can find…
However if you use the search (magnifier) icon you can look for ‘suggest campaign’… however it seems these days to be mostly covered by the First Look category… which this will likely become… or into the Watercooler once it has been noted… TerriB did a suggestion that will bring a look from Mel_Nod,… I’ll add @cageycat to that… a moderator for this… Still the FAQ listing and the others there are good to read…



I see there is also media attention about these concerns:



Like I said… there are lots of other types of contaminants as well… see all the flooded cars, trucks etc… open garbage dumps, gas stations with flooded tanks and so forth… how about wrecking yards, even stuff washing off of the highways… they accumulate lots of toxins on the surface and along side shoulders and border areas… farm fields for fertilizers and insecticides… flooded homes / businesses for cleaning agents, paints stored fuel and on and on… oh yes… once in the water this stuff is mixing up with other stuff… what does that make?
It is something to do what we can… I’m not sure if it can be part of our normal operations… but as I said calling it other damage on a tag would at least get it noted for further analysis… the floodwater itself might or might not… but some body else may have the right sensors to work with what we find re damage in order to track the spread… i.e. NASA has some really fancy sensors on their sats that can detect things invisible to the eye.
Not sure TN has that type of specialization… they seem to be visual… and can do tricks to get pictures and other graphic formats… but I’m doubtful about laser and radar scanning for example… that was behind my asking NK if her friends had knowledge of the specific type of scan they could use… Again, governments usually track and monitor toxic polluters pretty well. They need to…


Ideally, hyperspectral imagery may be able to isolate fecal matter or the antibiotics so prevalent in hog farming. It could be possible to a lesser extent with multispectral imagery. I think a good approach would be to start near a CAFO and identify the spectral signature that way, working outward to see how prevalent the spread is. I’m not an expert in this methodology, but hopefully others can weigh in. If using multispectral imagery, it may be possible to draw out hog waste with Image Chain Enhancement with ERDAS. I realize there are many environmental issues due to flooding, but these CAFOs are a health problem even without flooding. The normal method they use to dispose of hog waste is to shoot it in the air and disperse it that way. The people who live near these operations recently won a lawsuit because their houses and cars were covered in hog feces mist. Whether it’s dispersed in the air or stored in a lagoon, both are detrimental to health. Unfortunately, regulations were weakened in NC resulting in foreign-owned CAFO operators coming here because regulations in their own countries are stricter. Hopefully, after having so many flooding incidents, this may result in stricter guidelines for such operations.

Possibly with TN, it’s better to isolate one issue to be addressed. You mentioned toxins in general- which is also plausible. I think the difference here is what is monitored federally vs. what is monitored by the state. Federally, we have brownfield sites along with Toxic Release Inventory (air, land and water releases), most of which are toxic in nature. The issues with hog waste is that it is not considered toxic in nature, but is easily invasive and poses health risks. Thanks for your input and the tip about suggesting a topic. I’ll take a look at it this afternoon.


I appreciate the reply, just remember I’m not with Tomnod except as an observer when the put something to look at… I was calling your attention to the fact that we work with what we can see in their images… however, they may have contacts that might know how to due such as that… I do believe that they do multispectral imaging since that is how we often see ‘rainbow shadows’ of moving aircraft… the light gets separated by the speed across the scan… However all of my suggestions were made based on normal (mostly) images that we can look at… and the fact that a lot of resource will be looking for structural damages and flooding, but that we do pretty well… so checking such things as known CAFOs and like that to see which might be compromised would be doable… Really up to Tomnod… the parent company Digital Globe has other imagery on a commercial basis that is there for customers… but still limited to their satellite capabilities…

@TerriB s article seems to indicate that many of the CAFO sites don’t seem to have been badly affected, but I’m not sure that is a final status…other reports say the rivers are still rising… That is another part of waiting for the images… and the decisions to be made to do anything.


Hi @NatalieK Tomnod relies on partnerships with on-ground, local authorities or academics before starting a campaign, so there would be someone local to take and use the information. If you know of such authority, you can ask that authority to request a campaign.

Edit: One other comment. This could be impossible to track from so far above earth, unless these ponds add dye to the water?


Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll see if I know anyone at the state level that may want to initiate contact. They may be more interested in the coal ash, though.


Earth Explorer site would help you look things up. Takes some studying, but is good.


@cageycat As far as I know they don’t use dye. I did reach out to someone with the state, but I’m sure they are swamped right now.
@Beverly1 EarthExplorer, Glovis, NCOne and others have great imagery, but we’d need something flown possibly in a month or even treeless/winter. If it were just me alone mosaicing tiles, that could take some time. :grimacing: Although I’m looking for work at the moment, not sure if I can get all of that done in addition to getting the house ready for selling. I love all of the ideas here. Hashing out possibilities like this really helps in approaching the problem.


I started a new topic for this, rather than be on the “request for a campaign” post. There seems to be several studies in the works already.



I’m glad to see the media is catching up to us again… @NatalieK @TerriB


I’m so glad this is getting attention.


I’ve been looking around on the net myself… starting to wonder whether we are becoming redundant due to the number of commercial crisis mappers out there… I’ve been finding that a lot seems to have been being done on the fly and posted online by others… probably software based… and using sats we don’t access… which is good for disaster management but not as much fun… for us.


And look at all the interesting fun things we find! :smirk:


It’s okay to post additional info like this onto the thread for a campaign request, if the info would help Tomnod Staff to assess the request.


I started a new topic for this, rather than be on the “request for a campaign” post. There seems to be several studies in the works already.

@cageycat could you tell me where the other article went?? EDIT: Its okay I now see you actually posted this one twice and the two are together above