A North Carolina district court judge has ruled that hog producer Murphy-Brown LLC must clean up water pollution tied to 11 different operations. Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that the company must live up to an agreement that it signed 11 years ago to clean up sites in Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Pitt, Sampson and Scotland Counties, reports U.S. News & World Report.

"Considering that each of the farms were identified ... by conditions including lagoon leakage and elevated nitrogen concentrations, the corrective action is necessary to mitigate such conditions," Howard wrote.

A consultant is required to visit each site and must be allowed to gather data in order to develop clean-up plans, the judge ordered. Environmentalists had complained that consultants had been blocked from visiting the sites for three years.

Murphy-Brown is the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. Smithfield released a statement from Stewart Leeth, vice president, saying that all of the company’s facilities comply with federal and state law and that no evidence of groundwater contamination has been found.

Source: U.S. News & World Report