Articles, Blog

New Emergency Animal Mortality Management CPS and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza


Getting started with our
conservation webinar today. I’m Holli Kuykendall,
national technology specialist for NRCS’ East National
Technology Support Center. I’m pleased to turn
the webinar over to our moderator and
co-presenter, Dr. Glenn Carpenter. Glenn is the NRCS
Animal Husbandry leader and is headquartered
in Washington, DC. Glenn, you may now begin. Thanks, Holli. I gotta figure out how to
get to the first slide. There we go. I appreciate everybody taking
time out to join in today. We had an outbreak of
avian influenza last spring and we expect it back
again this fall and winter. And we thought it would
be timely to address biosecurity issues for NRCS. We also have a new conservation
practice on emergency mortality handling that Cherie LaFleur
from the Fort Worth technology center will address. And then Lori Miller, who’s
head of emergency management for Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service part of USDA agreed to talk about avian
influenza last spring and what we expect
for this coming year. But I’m going to start
out with biosecurity and then we’ll move on. Avian influenzas hit us
by surprise last year. It started out in the West
in California in December and then really concentrated
on the Western and Central migratory flyways. 21 states were impacted,
and about 50 million birds. That’s an awful lot of birds. It really had a couple
states very, very hard, Minnesota particularly
with turkeys, and Iowa, particularly
with laying hens. There’s a lot of ways that the
disease is transmitted or can be transmitted. But poor biosecurity is a major
means of transmission and one that we need to make sure that
NRCS doesn’t contribute to. Biosecurity is a
series of practices that minimize transfer of
contamination or diseases. You’re biosecure if things
are in place, if practices are in place that will minimize
the transfer of the disease. It includes include such
things as isolation. If nobody’s coming
on your operation or you’re not taking diseases
anywhere transmitting viruses, then it’s isolation
and you’re probably doing a good job of biosecurity. Disinfection is cleaning
up and killing the viruses with disinfectants. An important part of biosecurity
is registering contact with outsiders to make sure
that people know that you’re going to come on farm and make
sure that they know that you’re going to be there to do work. There was an
interesting study that was done by Poultry
Extension people at the University of Georgia,
probably about 10 years ago, where they put cameras
inside poultry houses and left them there
for like a week and then went back and asked
the farmers if they knew who had come inside
the poultry houses during that week’s
period of time. And the farmers made
a list of who had come inside the poultry houses. Then they went back and
looked at the films, and they found out that the
FedEx man and the postman and the guy delivering
the propane and the guy delivering the feed and a half
dozen other people, all sorts of other people, had
come in the houses and nobody knew
anything about it. So it’s important with
the transfer of disease to make sure that
things are locked down and there’s not a lot of
people coming and going that farmers don’t know about. Good biosecurity can
minimize problems with disease and
post-slaughter contamination. We don’t often think about the
post-slaughter contamination, but if we bring
diseases on a farm or bring microorganisms on
a farm that can actually stay on the carcass
of the animal, it can cause contamination later
in the slaughtering process. So we want to
minimize all problems with diseases on a farm. Poor biosecurity can harm the
profitability of the livestock industry and the
public perception of the safety of food
produced by the industry. There were a lot of
questions last spring about what was happening
with all the turkeys and all the eggs
that were coming out of these operations that were
infected with avian influenza. So that’s perception of the
safety of the food produced by the industry, by the public. But the profitability of
the livestock industry is impacted also. I believe I read that
in Minnesota, that was very hard-hit with
the turkey industry, that it was somewhere around
a billion dollars that it affected the industry. In Iowa, where
the layer industry was impacted very
greatly, I assume that it was way more
than a billion dollars. So it really affects
the profitability of the animal industries if
there’s a disease [INAUDIBLE]. Nationally, good
biosecurity helps safeguard the food supply. It’s really a part of
national security, the fact that the food supply
is safeguarded. And it’s very
important to everybody. Avian influenza isn’t
the only disease that we need to
be concerned with. Other diseases– anthrax,
PED virus in swine, Johne’s in dairy,
foot and mouth, exotic Newcastle in
poultry– all those diseases and many, many more
can be controlled by– or do we can help control
them through good biosecurity practices. NRCS needs to exhibit
leadership and develop partnerships to assist in
containing animal diseases. We need to partner with APHIS,
with FSA, with Extension, with industry, and
with the farmers. Between all of us
working together, we can control
diseases and make sure that farmers produce food
and fiber for the citizens. One of the advantages
that NRCS has is that we have an
office in nearly every county in the country. And it gives us tremendous
grassroots advantage. People come into our
offices to ask questions. People come into our offices
for advice and for assistance. And we can help smooth
the way for agencies like APHIS that may not have
operations in every county and may not be as familiar
with the grassroots level of production. Biosecurity goals include
not spreading disease, but very importantly, they
include the health and safety of the employee. Even though this avian
influenza didn’t affect humans, there’s a possibility
at some point in time that it could mutate
into a form that would. And then the health and
safety of the employee becomes important. NRCS wants to make sure
that as employees carry out their normal jobs,
they don’t become the source of the problem. And that’s very, very
important that we do that. Biosecurity policy is in the
general manual at part 130, part 403 subpart H. Takes
a few minutes to read it. It’s about three pages. I’d suggest that everybody read
it and become familiar with it. It takes longer to
become familiar with it than it does to read, so
read it and think about it and learn what it’s all about. For livestock, there
are three levels of biosecurity based on the
level of the interaction with the producer,
facilities, and livestock. Level one is
officer home visits. If you’re just visiting
the office or the home of the producer,
then biosecurity really becomes a matter of
washing hands and being aware of where you’ve been and what
you’ve been in contact with. Level two is minimal contact
with animals, buildings, and manue. If you have to walk through the
barnyard on your way to a field that you’re going
to, then you’re probably going to
use biosecurity level two, which means that
you put on boots and things like that. And then level three is
close contact with animals, buildings, and manure. During the outbreak of
disease, NRCS employees can’t enter or shouldn’t
enter affected areas, except at the request of APHIS
or the state veterinarian. We take secondary position to
APHIS when it comes to diseases and APHIS calls the shots. But we can provide
technical assistance to APHIS in finding
soil for burial and in providing technical
assistance for composting. Pre-plan your visits. Call ahead. Let people know
that you’re coming. Find out whether you really can
go, because the farmer might not want you to come. Know what supplies you need–
boots, coveralls, disinfectant. Know what equipment
is in your vehicle. Know where you’ve been. Know where you’re going,
because all those things are important to good
security, biosecurity. Learn and adhere to
biosecurity protocols. Time your visit so that you
don’t go to more than one poultry farm in a day. Wash your equipment
and vehicle in between. Know what your personal
protective equipment is. Know how to use it. Know about disposal
of equipment. Know about the importance
of other birds, because here in Beltsville,
Maryland, where my office is, we have a tremendous problem
in the parking lot with geese. And sometimes you
have to watch to make sure you don’t slip when
you walk into the building. So it’s important to
know whether you’ve been in contact
with other birds, because any birds can in
their manure, in their feces, can transmit the virus
for the avian influenza. There were a lot of
questions last spring about whether we ought
to stop all visits, whether everybody ought
to pull in their horns and stay in their office. You kind of got
to take your lead, take the lead from APHIS and
from the state veterinarian, from the producer,
and from the industry. Since the industry in
the poultry industry is so concentrated into
contract production, if the industry, if the
companies like Tyson and some of the others, say they don’t
want you on poultry farms, you probably shouldn’t go. Areas with heavy poultry
populations will be impacted. We know that. In many states, though,
poultry are in pockets. If you look at West
Virginia for instance, all poultry or essentially
all the poultry in the state’s in about four counties. And there isn’t too much poultry
in the rest of the state. If you look at Michigan,
about half the poultry is in Ionia County and there’s
no real poultry an Iola County. So you don’t have to worry
too much when you get away from my Ionia County. In any case, it’s a decision
for the state conservationist. And the state conservationist
will make the call as to really what you
do as far as curtailing your visits to farms. That’s all that I’m
going to talk about. We’ll pass it onto Cherie. That’s my contact information. Don’t hesitate to call
if you have questions or need more information. Cherie? Thank you, Glenn. So today I’m going to
spend some time introducing the new conservation practice
standard for emergency animal mortality management. So first, we’ll start
off with a definition. It’s means or method
for the management of animal carcasses from
catastrophic mortality events. Some of the purposes–
reduce impacts to surface and
groundwater resources; want to reduce the
impact from odors; and most definitely decrease
the spread of pathogens. So some conditions where
the practice applies– it’s going to apply to
animals operations where a catastrophic
event results in the need to manage a large
number of animal carcasses. It may not apply to catastrophic
mortality melting from disease. As Glenn has mentioned, APHIS
would take the lead role in managing mortality,
management and disposal from diseases. And it does not apply to
routine animal mortality. For your routine
mortality, you’re going to use or continue to
use a Code 316 animal mortality facility. So what are some
of the criteria? For all the purposes,
first and foremost, we need to follow all
applicable federal, state, and local regulations. As with many of our
other environmental engineering-related
practices, you need to divert the runoff from
your 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event. We don’t want to cause
any ponding in the area that you’re managing
your mortality. You need to certainly address
is the safety of humans as well as the livestock. Biosecurity concerns
are important and need to be
addressed and adhered to in all aspects
of the process. You definitely want to locate
all of your buried utilities in the project area. If you’re conducting
burial or composting or some other practice where
you could get some seepage or leachate into
the subsurface, you would need to destroy
any drainage tile or other types of drainage
measures that are in that area. And then you would need
to include provisions for clothing or removing
your temporary components, depending upon
what the management option that’s chosen. So let’s talk about
onsite disposal. Location of the
operations will definitely be important to address. You want to take care so
that you’re locating it where your prevailing winds and
landscape elements can minimize the impacts from
odors and protect the visual resources of
your neighbors and people traveling on public
highways in the area. You want to locate a down
gradient from springs or wells to do as much as you can
to protect and prevent groundwater contamination. You definitely want to locate
it above the 100 year floodplain elevation. As we’ve seen here
in the last few days, South Carolina’s been hit with
a tremendous amount of rainfall. And I think I heard
last night that they’re calling it a 1000-year event. There’s probably
some places that have flooded here in the
last few days have never flooded before. So as a minimum, you want
to stay above that 100 year floodplain. And if there are no onsite
suitable locations, then unfortunately you have to
look at offsite disposal. That is just something that
would need to be considered. More criteria to consider when
you’re looking for a location– there may be a situation
where there are still some on farm animal growing
operations going on. So you want to minimize the
disruption to those continuing operations. So you would want to locate your
disposal management operations in a different location
that doesn’t interfere with the travel
patterns of the farm equipment or the livestock. You would need to
consider the soils. You want to make
sure that you’re operating on suitable soils. You want to try and maintain
at least a minimum of two feet between the bottom
of the facility and the seasonal
high water table. And then once the mortality
management operations are completed, you
would need to revegetate those disturbed areas. So we’ve already talked a
little bit about the soil. You would want to make sure
that the soils that you’re performing operations on
are suitable for whatever option you chose. And the Web Soil
Survey can provide a preliminary assessment
of whether or not those soils are suitable
for those operations. So what are some onsite
disposal options? We’ve got burial, composting. We could bring in
incinerators or gasifiers. Open air burning might
be a possibility. And then temporary storage and
refrigeration or freezer units is also an option. Disposing a large number of
animals can take a long time, and so storing of
those carcasses may be something
that’s necessary. So let’s talk a little
bit about burial. Main thing you need
to start off with is following your state
and local regulations. There may be laws or regulations
in place that prevent or have restrictions or
criteria on the burial. So you need to be familiar with
what those regulations are. Depending upon the suitability
of the site that you’ve chosen, you may need to use
multiple trenches. You may not be able to
have just one large trench. So where permitted, where
the regulations allow, you would want to just
loosely cover your carcasses. You don’t want to
compact the soil over it. You would need to
retain your topsoil to regrade the site
as settling occurs. And then as I’ve
mentioned before, you would need to render
inoperable any and all field drainage tile in the
area, because you don’t want to create that
direct route to surface water. So let’s talk a little
bit more about burial, since burial is sort
of the main activity that the NRCS would be involved
with for this AI situation. I know that some states
are receiving requests from producers to perform
onsite assessments of the soil to determine whether or not
it’s suitable for burial. So I’m going to
spend a little bit more time on this
particular option than I will on the others. So we’ll talk about
soil suitability and then seepage control. So why do we need
suitable soils for burial? Well, burial has
a great potential to pollutes the surface or
groundwaters if it’s not sited in the proper soils. And we want to site the burial
trenches in low permeability soils. And the Web Soil Survey
evaluates potential burial sites for suitable soils. There’s a report called
Catastrophic Mortality Large Animal Disposal Trench
Criteria that is used. And it provides a general
evaluation of the site, but it’s not necessarily
site specific. So as we’ve mentioned
already, it is an online tool. Anyone can use it. The general public can use it. The report for burial
provides limitations on the soil for burial as
well as trench construction. It does not provide criteria
for the pit design itself or the construction details. And you should not select
a site based solely on what the Web Soil
Survey is telling you. So you need to include
a site investigation to verify the assumptions
about the location. You need to verify what the
Web Soil Survey is telling you about that particular site. So here’s a screenshot
of the Web Soil Survey and what the portion of
that report might look like. This rectangular area this is
called an area of interest. And we went into the
soil data explorer, clicked on the Suitabilities
and Limitations For Use tab and selected the Catastrophic
Mortality Large Animal Disposal Trench report. And it provided us limitations
of the soil for burial in this particular
area of interest. The red color areas
would be considered very limiting for burial. In other words,
these areas would not be suitable for burial. The yellow areas are
considered somewhat limiting. And you would need to
investigate a little bit more, perform an onsite investigation
to determine whether or not these onsite soils
might be suitable. Now in the criteria that
the Web Soil Survey uses, there are some criteria
that can be overcome that we can engineer around. And some examples of some of
those criteria is the slope. We can install diversions
to divert any runoff around the site. Depth to rock– that may
or may not be a limitation that we can overcome. If the depth to
rock is deep enough, perhaps we could just
use a shallower trench or we could do a semi-above
ground type of burial. Unstable excavation
walls, we can just use flatter side slopes. And there could be fragments
or stones in the soil, which we can still excavate through. It just may increase
the level of difficulty. But these are potential
things that we can work around in the construction process. So in regards to the
onsite investigation, all your borings should
be at least two feet below the depth of the planned
bottom of the burial trench. And in some situations
and since your soils may not be acceptable
for burial– and in other situations,
it may be possible that you could install a liner. But timing and
logistics may not allow. But it is something to consider. If the soils are not
suitable, perhaps you may have time to install a
liner to create a burial site. So let’s talk a little bit about
the burial trench, the size and capacity, some
specifications on how you would construct that trench. As far as the size,
you would need to take the number of
birds that you have, multiply times the
weight of those birds. And then you need to
convert it to a volume. And a typical conversion
factor that we use is 45 pounds per cubic foot. Once again, you trench
length may be limited by the soils and/or the slope. So that definitely needs to
be taken into consideration. What direction are you going
to configure your trench? How wide can you go? How long can you go? Do we need to find multiple
sites on the property to construct multiple trenches? You want to cover your mortality
with at least two feet of cover soil. And as I said before, you
don’t want to compact it. You want to leave
it loose so that you can get– you want an
aerobic type of situation to happen for the decomposition. You don’t want it
to go anaerobic. And a shallower trench in
warm soils, warm dry soils are going to promote the
decomposition process better then deep, cold, wet trenches. And then you want to mound your
cover soil over your burial area to divert the
runoff and then also to accommodate
the settling that’s going to occur as the
carcasses become decomposed. So how would we
construct the trench? Well, you want your
trench bottom to be level. You don’t want the
leachate that’s produced as the decomposition
takes place to pool in one area of the trench. You would like it
to be spread out. So you want to construct
a level bottom. You need to file your
OSHA regulations. Especially if you’re going
greater than five feet, then you need to really start
looking at the soil types that you have and whether
or not you need to bench it or slope it. You want to stockpile
your excavated soil at least two feet away from
the top edge of the trench. And you want to
separate your trenches. If you have your
trenches side by side, you want to separate them
by a minimum of three feet. Four feet would be preferable
of undisturbed area. And then you want to
stockpile your topsoil in a different location
to have on hand to grade the site after
the ground has settled. Whenever you cover
the carcasses, you want to cover with two
to three feet of loose soil. Typically, you’re going to look
at a flatter slope of, say, three to one to allow for
vegetation growth as well as being able to manage and
perform the O&M of that site. And here in this
instance of poultry, you would have a layer,
a one foot thick layer of birds on the bottom. Then you would come with
another one foot layer of soil, and then another layer of birds. In this situation we’re assuming
the trench is four feet deep. And then we would come with
our three feet of cover soil on top. Some other things to consider
for design and loading design and safety, safety
needs to be the number one factor in these operations. So you would need to use
barriers where applicable to manage the traffic flow and
to keep vehicles and equipment at least four feet away from
the top edge of the trench. And as I mentioned
before, you need to make sure that your
excavation techniques are OSHA compliant. So the next on-from disposal
option we’ll talk about is composting. The NRCS National Engineering
Handbook part 637 and then part 651 both have information
on composting and mortality management. You want to plan for the
amount of carbon material that you need. In the HPAI event in Iowa, one
of the subject matter experts shared with me that for
a 400-foot poultry house, he was using anywhere from
two to four semi-truck loads of carbon material. And so it takes a lot
of material to compost. But composting is a
very effective option. You definitely want to
protect the compost pile from precipitation and runoff
if you’re construction, your windrows outside. And you want to cover your piles
with a minimum of 18 inches carbon material to discourage
pests and minimize odors. Couple of other options are
incinerators and gasifiers. You would need to
use a type four incinerator that’s suitable
for human and animal remains. Then they have to be approved
for use within the state. Your state may or may
not approve the use of this type of equipment. So that is something
that you would need to research and verify. You would want to base
the minimum capacity on an average weight of animals
times the number of animals in the event. This may be a situation
where you cannot get a piece of equipment large enough to
dispose of your carcasses all at one time. This may be a time when you
need to consider the onform refrigeration in order
to meter the operation and dispose of the carcasses. And these two
pieces of equipment can produce a lot
of heat and you need to locate a minimum of 20
feet away from any structures. And in the strut,
ash could be spread according to code 590 nutrient
management once it’s done. Open air burning would
be another option. And it’s basically building
a large bonfire or perhaps air curtain destructors, which
would be a little bit more easier to manage than just
a bonfire type of situation. But not every state or county
is going to allow this. It’s typically
strictly prohibited. You typically would
need to have permits. And so this may be option, but
it’s just one of those options that you need to look
into and see if it might be feasible for your area. And we’ve already talked
about the refrigeration units in order to manage and help
with the logistics of disposing of a large amount of mortality. It could be possible that
multiple units would be needed. You would need to account
for the type of equipment that you’re going to use to
empty the refrigeration unit. You definitely would want it
to be durable and leakproof for the time that it’s going to
take to complete your disposal operations. You would need to consider
where you’re going to place it, because you’re going to
have equipment coming and going to load
and unload the unit. So the area where
it’s placed needs to be able to handle
that load and traffic. For rendering the
recommended temperatures, would be 22 to 26 degrees. But for composting,
you want to keep it a little bit above freezing. If you freeze the
birds, it’s going to take longer to compost
them, because they’ll have to defrost before
they’re able to heat up for the composting process. We also have some
information in the practice standard for offsite disposal. The three topics that we cover
are transportation, rendering, and landfilling. And I’m just going to
briefly touch on these. For transportation,
if you do happen to use an option that is
off-form, you definitely want those, whether they’re
roll-off beds or dumpsters or dump trucks, they definitely
need to be leakproof, tarped, and covered. You don’t want a
trail of leachate following you down the highway. So for rendering,
renderers are getting to be fewer and fewer in number. So it may or may not be a
viable option in your area. And depending upon what the
reason is for the mortality, it may be difficult to
transport those carcasses to the renderer. There may be travel restrictions
and logistics may limit it. So it’s a potential option
that would definitely need to be looked
into in more detail. The same goes for landfill. If you can use a
landfill, it needs to be a Subtitle D landfill. These landfills have
the proper drainage and leachate collection
systems to be able to handle animal mortality. And typically, the
individual landfill is going to decide
whether or not they can accept the mortality. So it may or may not be
an option in your area. But it’s something that would
need to be investigated. So what are some
considerations that you can take into account when
planning for emergency mortality disposable? What is available for equipment
and land application area? Where are the management
capabilities of the operator? What is the emotional
impact on the producer caused by the losses? What degree of pollution
control is required by state and local agencies? How are they going to affect the
wildlife and domestic animals? What are the economics of
the available alternatives? That’s going to vary
from area to area, depending upon what types of
options you have in your area. And any effect on
your neighbors, the aesthetics of the
operation, the odors, traffic on public roads–
these are all things that need to be
considered when planning for emergency disposal. Some other considerations
and something to look into– if you
already have a CNMP, the Farmstead Safety
and Security Element may have already planned
for catastrophic mortality. And on-form a burial site,
if the soils are suitable may have already
been identified. And once again, initial
planning of the site should include referring
to the Web Soil survey. You may want to
consider alternatives to prevent bloating, such as
opening abdominal cavities. And this would be especially
true for your larger animals. Are there state requirements
for record keeping? You may need to record with the
property deed at the courthouse location of the burial site. You may need to keep as a
record the type and quantity of mortality, the
burial date, and there may be other details that are
required by local regulations. So for plans and
specifications, there are a number of items
that need to be looked at. I think first and foremost
is your contact information for state authorities. Any time you have a
catastrophic event, you need to notify
your local folks. And that would typically
start with contacting the state– I’m sorry, the
local vet who handles that form. And then from there,
there are going to be procedures for
notifying other folks. You would probably
want to plan– if you’re planning this prior
to an incident happening, you would want to plan
for a worst case scenario. So you would want to
consider all the animals that are on that form. You would want to lay
out the location of where those mortality
management activities are going to take place. You would need to take into
account the grading plan for your drainage features. What do our soils look like? If we are able to
do onsite disposal, what are those requirements? Are there any
structural details we need to include– vegetative
requirements, odor management, and contact information for
those offsite facilities if that is an option. So then we would
also need to address the O&M. What are those
specific instructions for each component, whether
it’s composting or burial or you have some sort
of mechanical option that you’ve chosen– what
are the specific instructions for making that particular
option work properly? What are safety and
biosecurity considerations? You would want your contact
and phone numbers of people to contact for losses. And I have a sample plan
that I’ll show you here on the next slide. You need to maintain
your record keeping. What are the methods and
procedures for disposal that you’re going to employ? And you need to
make sure that you perform your
periodic inspections of your onsite disposal sites. Definitely repair and
replace damaged components as necessary. Here’s a little
emerging mortality response plan that
I put together. It’s just a suggestion, but
it includes the date, the form name, the physical address,
directions to the facility, emergency contacts, your state
animal health agency folks, your contractors that
you need to contact. Having all this
information in one location could be very
helpful in the event that you need to
respond quickly. So we have some additional
O&M for mechanical types of equipment. You want to inspect them on
a regular basis, steering and operation to make sure
that they’re operating as efficiently as possible. You want to run them according
to the manufacturer’s recommendations and
inspect periodically to make sure that everything
is working properly. For composting,
you’re going to need to identify the equipment and
the amount of carbon material that you need. And you want to locate
that as soon as possible. It would be helpful
to have a recipe and sort of make it
a cookbook process. And then you need
to have thermometers to monitor those temperatures
to make sure you’re composting properly. So here’s some more
references that are available for folks
who want to learn more about the various
disposal methods. I highly recommend
this publication here that’s put together by
Kansas State University. Carcass Disposal– A
Comprehensive Review– and it truly is a comprehensive review. It goes into depth into
many of the disposal options that I’ve mentioned
here today and I think it’s a great
resource of information. So I also want to touch
on NRCS assistance. As we’ve mentioned before, APHIS
provides financial assistance in the case of the disease. And Lori will touch on
that a little bit more. Now in regards to
NRCS assistance, we can definitely provide
technical assistance. We can provide assistance with
planning for emergency disposal due to a catastrophic event. We can perform the onsite
assessment of the soils for siting the various
disposal options and we can report that technical
assistance under code 368. In regards to financial
assistance, most likely it would be a situation where
USDA declares an emergency. Two recent examples
include the cattle deaths that we experienced in the
upper plains in the fall of 2013 due to the early blizzard. And then some livstock losses in
Nebraska in the summer of 2014 from some tornadoes. These two incidents
led to rules waivers which allowed equip assistance
in a short time frame. There are no equip
rules on the books per se with a documented
process at this point. It’s something
that’s going to be developed at the time of a
situation and the need arises. So with that, we can
answer some questions. I don’t know, Glenn, if you
want to take questions now, or if you want to
wait until the end. But I’ll turn it back
over to you, Glenn. Thanks, Cherie. Let’s go ahead and
wait till the end. I think I think we
need to do that. And let’s go on with Lori. Thank you so much, Glenn,
Cherie, Holli and everybody. My name is Lori Miller. I’m an environmental engineer
with USDA APHIS Veterinary Services in Riverdale, Maryland. And my role here
since 2008 has been to focus on animal disease
outbreak response, given that APHIS is the lead federal
responder in that case. And specifically I focus on
decon and disposal issues. So in the last
several years, I’ve worked with a number
of interagency groups. And in particular. There was a White
House subcommittee on foreign animal
disease threats that convened a
working group in 2007. And they asked us to
identify where were our decon and disposal challenges and
what research and development projects could be implemented
to help fill those gaps. And so that’s been
much of my work over the past seven
or eight years has been managing
these various projects with a number of performers. And so given that APHIS is the
lead federal response agency, this is kind of a summary
which may be difficult to read, but it is on the
APHIS website talking about how our response happens. So you have a producer
who has a flock of birds. They notice an increased
mortality in their flock. And they report it to
their local veterinarian or their state veterinarian. If the veterinarian
believes that it’s likely to be a reportable
disease, such as high path AI, then they will take samples. They’ll call in their
federal counterpart at APHIS and those samples
will be rushed off to the national
lab for analysis. Sometimes they’re also–
they split those samples with the state lab. Within 24 hours they’ll know
if it’s a high path, so an H5 or an AH type of virus. And then it takes
another 24 hours before they know if it’s the
H5 and 2 or what have you. So once that farm is confirmed
positive, it’s quarantined. And APHIS then sends
out a caseworker to count the number of
birds, appraise their value, and provide an indemnity. So we pay the producer or
the grower for the birds that they have at
their market value. At that point in time, some
of the birds may have died. If needed, we will send
in crews to euthanize the remainder of the flock. And then the disposal
process begins. So APHIS pays for pretty
much the entire process, from the identification,
the lab work, the indemnity for the market value of the
animals, the depopulation, disposal, cleaning
and disinfection, and a followup testing. That is all covered
through APHIS. So in January 23, 2015, we had
a certain amount of information about disposal. So there were certain
number of disposal options that we were aware of. We had been doing
these research projects over the past several years. We had spent a lot of
time developing tools to make it easier
for the responder to decide which disposal
option would work best for their site,
given the current weather conditions, the time of year,
the availability of resources and so forth. And as you may have noticed
from Cherie’s presentation, there are quite a
number of factors that go into deciding
what is the best option. And so what I’m going to do
first is go through the option, describe them, tell you how
we used them this spring, talk to you about why we prefer
some options over others, and then spend a
little time telling you how it played out in the
spring during our response. So let’s start with composting. As Cherie mentioned, in the case
of an animal disease outbreak, quarantine is an
important part of that. And so it is
important to restrict movement of infected materials. Therefore, if at all
possible, the policy of APHIS in collaboration
with the state decision-makers is usually to try to keep
those infected materials on the infected premises and
not transport them anywhere. But sometimes that’s not
possible, in which case a safe transport method
would be required to an appropriate
disposal location. So in terms of composting,
this was a great option for us in the spring. Because in most cases, we
had either turkey flocks that were infected,
in which case those birds were in large barns. They were often floor raised, so
they were on a bed of bedding. And there was a lot
of space in the barn, so that we could do
indoor composting. Some of the other farms
that became infected were egg laying facilities. And most of those involved a
large number of birds in cages with narrow walkways
between the stacks of cages. And so there was not a lot
of open space in those barns, therefore indoor composting
was not possible. But I’ll add a little
more detail to that later. So in-house composting was
used extensively this spring. And it involved in the
upper left hand picture there, placing a
layer, about a one foot layer of a carbon material such
as wood chips, wood shavings, corn stover, sunflower
seed hulls, oat hulls down the middle of the barn then
placing the infected birds with the infected litter
onto that base layer and then capping the entire
mound with another foot of carbon material. And it performed very well. We required that there
be a mortality composting subject matter expert
available to guide the building of the
piles, because we found that if we didn’t have an
expert guiding the construction, the piles did not perform. They didn’t reach temperature. The virus was not
necessarily inactivated. And oftentimes, there
were a lot of vectors such as flies attracted to the
improperly constructed piles. So one of the main lessons
we learned from this spring was, there’s a certain
number of requirements you have to have for
effective composting. You have to have a subject
matter expert to help guide the windrow construction. You have to have
sufficient carbon source to balance the nitrogen to get
the microbes to do their job. You need enough space
to build the windrows. And they have to have the
proper balance of moisture and aeration to function. And in this slide, there’s some
other examples of composting. To the right is composting
in an ag-bag type unit that was not used
extensively in the spring, because we didn’t have
any data about how well those bags performed
in terms of bringing the entire biomass up to
the required temperature for an extended period of time. We do have a composting
protocol that’s posted on the APHIS website. It was developed by the
composting technical team, which consisted of about 20
mortality composting subject matter experts
from North America. And that was just published
a week ago Friday. And then at the bottom there,
you see some outdoor windrows. We did use outdoor
composting in some cases, although we preferred
indoor whenever possible. Another onsite
option was burial. These are some
photographs of some– the upper left is from the UK
in 2001 with their FMD outbreak. The one on the lower right
is from Japan’s FMD outbreak in 2010. Upper left was not lined. The lower right, they
attempted to line it with these blue tarps. But as you can imagine, that
would be fairly ineffective. You wouldn’t dig the hole
and line it with blue tarps and fill it with water
and expect the water to stay in there if you were
going to build a swimming pool. Well, it doesn’t work for
containing leachate either. Onsite incineration was
another approach that we used. The top two photographs are air
curtain burners in trenches. We did not use the trench
method this spring. Based on experience we had
with a low path avian influenza outbreak in Virginia
several years ago, that was found to be
relatively inefficient. And there was a preference
for the fire boxes. So the bottom two pictures
show air curtain incinerators in the boxes. We did use those. They have limited throughput
of about five tons per day. And we were generating anywhere
from 120 to 240 tons per day from a single egg
layer facility. And we had numerous of them
infected simultaneously. Just going back to
burial for a moment– although burial is often the
first option that folks think of when they think about
disposing of animal carcasses, it’s fine if you have
the right conditions and a small number of animals. But when we’re talking
about the massive quantities that we saw with the
outbreak this spring, and even more massive would be
if we had some sort of outbreak with large animals. It can be a significant
environmental threat. And so this graphic
shows a burial pit. A study from the
University of Saskatchewan found that the leachate that
comes from a burial site contains about 12,000 parts per
million of ammonium nitrogen and about 1,500 parts
per million phosphorus. Comparing that with
the EPA drinking water standards of 10 parts
per million nitrate, one part per million
nitrite, and one part per million
phosphorus, you can see that those levels are anywhere
from 10,000 to 1,000 times higher than the drinking
water standards. And so that that’s an
issue because that’s the concentration coming out of
the bottom of the burial pit. Depending on the distance
to the water table, that concentration
may reduce some and then can migrate
to the water table and then flow to nearby drinking
water wells or wells that are used to water livestock. 100 feet is the distance from a
burial pit to a drinking water well that’s required
in some states. Other states are up
to 600 feet distance. It just varies by state. We currently do
not have any data about what would the
concentration of nitrogen or phosphorus be at the
well, because it would depend on so many factors. It’s really site specific. We had initiated a
project to evaluate that, but that has not been
funded at this point. So we hope to get some more
data on that in the future. And then looking at a
planned view of this where you have your burial pit,
the leachate flowing down gradient to a
drinking water well. And it’s important because
the nitrate in particular can be fatal to infants. So if you’re over 10 parts
per million of nitrate at that well, and you’re starting at
12,000, and it can be fatal, that’s a pretty big risk. And since we don’t have
data, I would certainly advise being
conservative and avoiding this risk if at all possible. Nitrogen, once it reaches
the water table can discharge to surface waters, where
it’s toxic to aquatic life, depletes dissolved oxygen
in receiving waters, so reduces the number of
fish and other invertebrates and then also eutrifies
the waterways. Another option is landfill. And we did use it
during the springtime for some of the larger
egg layer facilities where we couldn’t do indoor composting
because there was no space. The farms didn’t have a lot
of land around the barns, so there was no space
to do the composting. Their soils were not
suitable and the water table was too high to
do onsite burial. The incinerators,
as I said, that were capable of being
brought onsite– the capacity just wasn’t
enough to make it worthwhile and so the materials had
to be transported offsite. What we used were a sort of
zip bag, a biozip bag that is placed in the truck. I don’t really have a good
picture of a biozip bag. But it would be placed into
the roll-off container. The top would drape
over the sides. You would down some carbon,
like wood chips in the bottom. You’d load it with birds. You then fold the sides of
this bag up and zip it shut and then cover it with a tarp
and disinfect the entire thing before it moved down the road. And then once it
arrived at the landfill, it would be tipped out. This doesn’t quite show
that protocol that we used. What we developed
with the state of Iowa was that the landfill would
have a trench prepared, so that when– so they would
dig trench in the waste. The load of birds would
come dump into the trench and then they would
immediately cover that bag over with additional waste
so that no birds would come in contact with that. And one of the reasons
we like landfills over the unlined burial is
because they basically address all the environmental concerns. So with unlined burial, you
have the concerns of leachate reaching groundwater. You have methane
gas that’s generated from the anaerobic
decomposition, which can be explosive if it
migrates to nearby buildings. And with an engineered
landfill, you have a liner system
that minimizes the likelihood of leachate
reaching the environment. The leachate that is
produced inside the liner is collected and either
discharged to a pond or wetland or taken to a
wastewater treatment plant or it’s recirculated and
sprayed back on to the waste. Also, there are
methane control systems that will collect the
methane and use it sometimes as a fuel source. There are monitoring wells and
groundwater interception drains underneath the liner, and then
monitoring wells where they can keep track of any leakage. So if a producer
wants to bury onsite and they want to line the
burial pit, by the time they’re finished
lining, maybe worrying about the leachate collection,
worrying about the gas buildup and all that,
they’re basically building a permanent landfill
on their property, which is going to affect
their property values. And that raises the
question, well, at that rate, why not just use
existing landfills that already have
all those permits and protections in place? Well, as we found out, there
are a lot of reasons why. I’ll get to that in a moment. Rendering is another option
for animal mortality disposal. But it was not used
during the spring. And it involves the birds or
the animals being collected at the farm, transported
to a rendering facility, being ground into more
of a slurry where they’ve been cooked and
60% of the biomass goes off as a steam
or condensate portion. 20% of the biomass is a
fat or tallow portion, which can be used as biodiesel. And the remaining
20% of the biomass is a meat or bone
meal, which normally is used for animal
feed or pet foods, but in the case of
an infected batch would not go into the
animal food chain. But we did not use
that in the spring. And renderers are reluctant
to take infected materials, because they don’t
want their pet food brand to be tarnished with a
recall or adverse publicity. Although if the outbreak
was large enough and it encompassed a
rendering plant that was in the quarantine
zone, they would likely be willing to take
the materials, because it wouldn’t have
it any other business and could be used for
disposal only purposes. And then finally, we also
looked at offsite incineration. We had some purpose-built
incinerators. Well, I should probably
say purpose-retrofitted incinerators that were
brought to a central location near the farms in Iowa. We also looked into using
fixed incineration facilities. But those facilities
could only take boxes that were
approximately a cubic yard. And they would only hold
about 140 pounds each. And so we would have
needed so many boxes for the number of birds
that were being produced, it would’ve been
exorbitantly expensive, plus the fact that the
fixed incinerator that was willing to take them
was on the East Coast. It was a non-starter for us. And so over the
years, we’ve developed a ranking of these
major disposal options. And based on the opinion of a
panel of federal subject matter experts as well as
data from the UK and a number of
other sources, we have determined that considering
15 different criteria, offsite landfill is the safest,
most cost-effective option, followed by rendering, followed
by permitted incinerator, followed by composting
and open air burning, and that onsite
burial turns out to be the least favorable
option, based on those 15 different criteria. And there’s extensive
footnotes about this table. And there is an accompanying
decision loop and checklist that goes with this matrix. If anybody’s interested
in having it, I’m happy to provide it. So for the 2015 response,
we used the order of hierarchy shown here. Even though those offsite
options of landfill, rendering, and fixed incinerator are
overall more preferable, just the concept of
moving anything offsite was not considered. And because we’re
talking about poultry and the animals
are smaller and we were able to handle
many of them onsite, it was possible to start
with the onsite options. And so in-house
composting was preferred. If not, we went to outdoor. If not, onsite burial was
considered or bringing mobile technologies onsite. If that was not
possible, then we looked to landfills,
rendering, and incineration. And this is just an
example of the checklist and the level of
detail that it has. It goes into excruciating
detail about how to get the information
about where your nearest landfills are, phone numbers
and contact information– so lots of detail about how
to implement those options. And that is a tool that we
have available for our folks. So how that all played out this
spring– well, from this map, you can see these purple spots
are the commercial premises that were infected. We started with one
farm in California. A few weeks later
we had another one, a few weeks later we had one in
Arkansas, a couple in Missouri. And then Minnesota broke. And it exploded exponentially. And while it was
exploding from 10 premises to 60 premises over a
two-week period, Iowa broke. And it broke with one of
the egg layer facilities, which had 3.8 million birds. So we had thousands
APHIS employees deployed, thousands of contractors,
state responders. The response was overwhelming
and the need was overwhelming. So the way that played out–
we had 211 commercial premises. Minnesota had 109. Of those, 108 were composted. One was buried. Iowa used every option
they have available, just because of the magnitude of
the birds, the number of birds at those egg laying facilities. South Dakota used burial. Wisconsin, Nebraska, California,
Missouri and North Dakota all composted. And Arkansas had one
site that was buried. The composting challenges– as
I mentioned before, we required that the windrow construction be
guided by a composting subject matter expert. And that’s not just any
kind of composting SME. That’s someone who has extensive
experience in mortality composting, preferably
during a disease response. Well, there are
only about two dozen of those folks in North America
that we were able to identify. And at the peak, we would
be deploying five at a time. And given that any
one of the individuals could only physically sustain
being out for two weeks maximum, it was very
difficult to keep up with the number of compost
windrows, the amount of composting that
was being done, and having the
appropriate expertise. Another enormous challenge
was carbon source. An ideal ratio for
compost would be three pounds of carbon
material per pound of bird. We were using the emergency
ratio of half that, one and a half pounds
per pound of bird. At 50 million birds,
estimated $30 million just for carbon alone. The temperatures in the windrows
had to be monitored every day for 14 days, piles
turned, monitored another 14 days– extremely
labor intensive for people in personal
protective equipment. And all of that movement
on and off the premises was a biosecurity issue. It’s hard to coordinate
the multiple experts. And people just
wanted the recipe. They wanted, you know, well,
just tell us how to do it. We’ll do it ourselves–
without understanding that the troubleshooting part
was really the important thing. And you needed an
expert for that. The burial challenges–
states guided when burial could be used. Very few of the sites
were suitable due to the soils and the
high water tables. Some of the stakeholders,
like industry folks thought that [INAUDIBLE]
But they [INAUDIBLE] The onsite incinerators
had such small capacity, they really didn’t
do us much good. Landfills were very
concerned about receiving infected animals and
producing infected leachate. It took us 42 days
to work through all of the waste acceptance
criteria, safety guidelines, and questions for the public
before the first landfill would accept the first load. We did have a company that
came forward and had a soil treatment incinerator
that they retrofitted to manage the birds. At its peak, it
took over a month to get that up and running. And at its peak, it could
only manage about 330 tons per day, which was
about as much as we were producing from 1 and 1/2 farms. And we had 71 farms in Iowa. But every bit helped. And the good news
was that research we had been doing over the
past several years paid off. We had a risk assessment,
which helped guide us on how to line the trucks. We had the list of composting
subject matter experts to tap into. We did have guidance
documents on APHIS website. And that all paid off. We learned some lessons. The liners didn’t work when
they sat in the hot sun for 42 days filled with birds. Had we been able to
transport them straight away to the landfill, that
wouldn’t have been an issue. But that wasn’t the case. And so some things
that we have done is we’ve developed a national
composting protocol that is available on our website. We’ve surveyed the states. We’re working with
them to try to line up these options in advance. And I’m just so grateful to see
that NRCS has a mission area to work with arms to
develop site-specific plans. I think that’s
exactly what’s needed. And I hope that APHIS and NRCS
can work together in the future to bring our heads together
and get that in place. So we’ve made a lot of progress. The planning paid off, but we’ve
still got a lot of challenges and we hope we don’t have
any more positive premises. So thank you. Back to you, Glenn. Thanks, Lori. I’m not sure how Holli
wants to handle questions. And I think there are
questions for a little test, a little quiz for
participants at the end. So I’m not sure how
Holli– how we need to handle the questions
on the presentations and the questions. Glenn, this is Holli. You just go through the Q&A
that people have typed in and the quiz questions
come after the fact, once we have
stopped the webinar. OK. So I’ll rely on you
and Cherie, and I guess Lori to look at the
questions as they’re coming in and summarize some of those and
answer those as you need to. OK. Just going down the list,
first one from Joseph Spence. Interestingly
enough, most county NRCS parking lots
have the potential for cross-contamination through
farmers’ pickup trucks visiting us without being clean. And that’s right, and that’s
a reason that we really want our vehicles,
NRCS vehicles, to be kept clean so
that it can maybe minimize the chances
of cross-contamination. Next one, John [INAUDIBLE]. It’s important that NRCS develop
new and innovative methods in order to complete
practice certification. I’m not sure what this one is. Well, I think that coordination
between the contractor and the producer and NRCS and
other agencies is important. So we’re all working
on the same page so that one state
doesn’t do one thing and another state do another. Particularly if practices work,
there’s no reason for one state to do them and the
state next door not to. Is there an Excel spreadsheet
for properly sizing an animal mortality facility? Cherie, do you know? I don’t know of one. There is no national
spreadsheet. I do know that there
are many states who have developed their own. And Joseph, if you would
get in touch with me, I can point you in
the direction of some of the states who have developed
some pretty good spreadsheets. Good. Thanks, Cherie. Frank Wu asks, is it true
that the 368 standard provides criteria and guidance for the
management of animal carcasses for catastrophic
mortality events or things other than disease. Cherie already answered it. Yeah, it is. I guess that’s what the check
means, that Cherie already answered it. Shannon asked, is
it 1.5 to 1 slope, and that was all taken care of. Kevin [INAUDIBLE] asks,
even in well-aerated soils, waters move through them. Most all nutrients
from the carcasses will not be taken up by
plants but will go where? Well, I think you’ve
answered part of it. One of the things
to be concerned with is that the nutrients
from the carcasses don’t end up in a water. And in a lined– of
course if they end up in a lined landfill,
the nutrients will stay within
the lined landfill. Pete Vanderstappen
asks, will NRCS or APHIS give some guidance on
a good compost mix? This is Lori. If I could answer
that one, Glenn. Sure. So APHIS has published their
composting protocol, which includes exactly
those specifications, as well as number
of other things. Is there a means where I
can send a link to that SOP and also maybe our
disposal decision tree and checklist to the group,
maybe by sending to Holli? Why don’t you just paste that
right into our chat area and I will post it into the links. Or you can email it to me. That would probably be better. The link wasn’t cooperating
with my computer yesterday. So I’m just afraid– Also along those lines, I’m in
the process of putting together information to send out to
field staff and to state staff. And it should be coming out
within the next couple weeks, as soon as it gets finished and
goes through a review process here at headquarters. So it shouldn’t be too long. Hopefully it’ll be before
the first incidence of avian influenza. Pete also asks,
one option talked about is silage by mixing
birds and other materials and putting in an ag bag. Paul Patterson and Mike
Hewlett at Penn State have been working on that. And you end up with
silage that ends up being able to be kept until
a renderer can take it. And I talked to Paul
last week and it’s an interesting concept. And he felt it was
exhibiting a lot of success and that it might be an
option in the future. On the other hand, you’ve
got to find renderers that are willing to take it. And it’s not really
a disposal option. It’s an option for
holding until it can be utilized for another product. Shannon asked, do
you have any comments on use restrictions
for burial sites, say, 5, 10, 25
years after burial? This is Lori. I can comment on that one. So Japan and South Korea both
have a three year restriction on their burial sites where
you can’t disturb them for three years. I have communicated
with both countries. And there is no data to
support that length of time. There was a study in Canada
that unearthed an FMD burial site from 50 years
earlier and the carcasses were still pretty much intact. So if you’ve buried
carcasses and there’s no lime– I think
the case in Canada, they applied lime,
which tended to preserve the carcasses, which is why
they hadn’t really changed. If the decomposition
does occur, I would argue that it’s going
to take more than three years. But at any rate, you’re going
to have some evidence that there had been a burial site there. So once a burial site,
always a burial site. And constructing through
those trenches later can unearth bones
and other remains. Whether it’s an infection
risk or not is unknown. I would say the longer
the time, the less likely. We don’t know. Thanks, Lori, OK. Scott Snyder asks,
the 368 practice has two national payment
schedules set up. How do we implement
the 368 practice through NRCS financial programs? We’ll let take that. I think that’s going to be
on a case by case basis, similar to the
actions that programs to look after the
fall blizzard and then the tornadoes in Nebraska. Programs implemented
some emergency measures. And I know that is not as
timely as it needs to be. But unfortunately, that’s
where we’re at this point. Thanks, Cherie. Helen Jones asks, when digging
boring holes what are specifics of what you’re looking for? Lori? Yeah. So given the groundwater, the
leachate to soil to groundwater pathway, the protocol for
analyzing the risk in that case is enough data to
be able to predict, to model the
hydraulic conductivity and the concentrations so the
state and transport over time. I come from the hazardous
waste cleanup industries and the borings we took
were split spoon samplers to the water table with
evaluations every two feet. And I don’t know that
that’s necessary, but certainly below
the top 60, you’ve got plenty of data for
the first six feet. But below that, getting some
data which would tell you hydraulic activity and
depth to groundwater, I think would
enable an estimation of how quickly the contaminants
would reach a drinking water well. Good. Thank you. Frank Wu asked, does APHIS
have a practice standard for disease events? So we don’t publish practice
standards like NRCS does. And I’m envious. I wish we did. Because you guys do
such a great job. All we have are the protocols
that have been published. And so the link that I’m
going to send to Cherie will have access to
all of those protocols. So the restocking, which tells
you how long a compost pile has to be there,
the composting SOP, which tells how the compost
pile has to perform. So I hope that gives
you the information. I know APHIS has a lot of–
SOPs has a lot of information. And if people even want to
get on the APHIS website and look around, there’s
just a tremendous amount of information that APHIS
has really put together, a lot of it very recently
because of this outbreak of avian influenza. Pete Vanderstappen asked,
did anyone ever figure out what volume of leachate would
you generate from a one foot layer of bird mortality? If the bottom was
level, could this volume be treated by soil
like a leach field? Well, I can answer part of that. I actually did
some calculations. There are calcs on how
much leachate is generated. I don’t recall off
the top of my head, but I can certainly
get you that. If I recall–
well, I’m not going to try to do it off
the top of my head. I can send you that information. Regarding the
volume being treated by soil like a leach
field, the concentration of nutrients in
carcass leachate is– I think it was two to four
times the concentration of swine lagoon sludge. And it would be
many, many fold more concentrated than typical septic
affluent from a residence. So yes, the answer is
it could be treated by soil like a leach field. But to treat it to
acceptable levels, you would need an awful lot
of depth to groundwater. Thanks, Lori. Carl Dupold, just says
great presentation. That’s excellent to
get that feedback. Can we address on
farm composting? Would you comment on
using a combination of in-house and
outside composting to help with both biosecurity
and getting producers back into production faster? And I can do that. So we preferred
that the producers kept the windrows indoors
for the initial 14 day cycle. So our protocol was
when the windrows were set, when they
were completed, that would start
the timer ticking. 14 days of temperature
monitoring, then after 14 days, the temperatures were evaluated. And if they met the criteria,
then the tiles could be turned. Ideally, we wanted the
piles built in-house. At the 14 day mark,
they could then be turned and moved outdoors,
because much of the virus would have been inactivated by
that first 14 day heat cycle. So that was believed to
be relatively low risk. So it both maintained
biosecurity to the maximum extent
possible and it also shortened the timeline a little bit. Ultimately, the
premises could not be released from quarantine
until after the compost had gone through two 14 day cycles. And so if you figure a couple
days returning and whatnot, a minimum of 30 days, plus
the barn has to be cleaned, disinfected, and then they
have to take surface samples inside the barn, send
those off for PCR testing. If the PCR comes back
positive with any indication of organism, then it’s sent
to virus isolation, which takes 21 days, plus there’s
a 21 day required downtime after cleaning and
disinfection before restocking. And that’s an
international requirement. So it ended up not helping
that much because they were going to be down anyways. But yes, that option was there. Thanks, Lori. Julie Bradford asked, how
is the composted material disposed of after
composting is completed? Great question. That was a challenge, because
the emergency composting was– the goal was to
inactivate the virus. The goal was not to make
marketable product compost. So we were kind of trying
to strike that balance. All APHIS would pay for
was virus inactivation. So you needed a lot more
carbon and a lot better carbon to make
really nice compost that would be marketable. Many of the farms
just held it onsite it until they were
able to land apply within their nutrient
management permit. I don’t know if they were
able to market any of it. And if not, then perhaps
holding until the next season or landfill would be options. But for the most part,
they were responsible for that disposal themselves,
because it was considered non-infected at that point. Lori, this is just a
thought– if people still have the compost from last
year, they might actually want to hang onto it,
because there’s still a significant amount
of carbon and probably microbes in the compost
that might be needed this fall if their own
operations become infected again, which we hope isn’t
the case, but you never know. This is true. Alexander Reyes asks, how
would the expected outbreak for the fall be managed? Well, hopefully better
than in the spring. Given this was our first
time out in a decade or more, we had a steep learning curve. So a lot of lessons learned,
a great deal of effort put into learning those lessons
and improving our preparedness for fall. So we’ve staffed up. We’re reaching out
to states more. It’s a lot more outreach. We now have the compost
protocol developed. We didn’t have it while we
were responding in the spring. We had protocols. They just weren’t agreed
upon by everybody. Now we have one that’s
a consensus standard that everybody agrees on. So we are improving the
way we manage our team. We’re trying to use
state officials who know their local environmental
regulations in the disposal team leader role. In our management team, we are
training up more composting subject matter experts, or at
least sending them to school so they can become apprentice
experts– so lots more training and lots more people. Thank you. Helen Jones asks, so what would
be the minimum size facility you would develop a mortality
plan in advance for. So my recommendation– it would
be nice if they all had a plan. We kind of use 100 cows as
our de minimis quantity. And that number is arbitrary. But it’s stood the test of time. 100 cows is about
50 tons of biomass. And so that’s how many– but
maybe 10,000 chickens, I guess? So that would be
about the level where I would say they should
start thinking about it. The thinking is that
anything less than 50 tons buried in one
location online is not going to have significant
impact on the water table, even if you’re not that
suitable for burial. But more than that,
then they really should have a plan in place. Actually, the CNMP, the
comprehensive nutrient management plan that we’ve
dealt with within NRCS for many years, a
part of the CNMP has been a plan for
mortality disposal. It’s really been aimed at
daily mortality disposal, but I think there was
part of it where there’s supposed to be some
consideration at least of what to do in an emergency situation. Helen Reyes, where
is it expected? I’ll just take that. I think everywhere. Right now I think
what we’re gearing up for is that there’s no reason
for me to believe that it would not be in the Western flyway
and the central flyway like it was last spring, but
also the eastern flyway that would make it a problem
everywhere from Pennsylvania down through Florida and
Alabama and Mississippi. So I think we’re going to–
it’s really an important thing. And I think we’re going
to have big problems. I hope not. I hope I’m wrong. Steve Henry says, how large is
a typical refrigeration unit? Is it practical for
catastrophic mortality? If I could comment
just briefly on that– so if you can compost
in-house, and so we were able to compost
in-house with the turkey facilities almost universally. For the egg layer
facilities, we’re talking three million to five
million birds per premises. You’d need an awful lot of
refrigeration units for that. And they would have to be
disinfected inside and out. So I think that would
make it a challenge. Other forms of storage– what we
ended up doing at the first egg layer facility was we thought
that the landfills were going to take the material right away,
so we sent rolloff dumpsters. We sent a bunch of liners. And we started
pulling the birds out of the houses at 200 tons a
day, filling up those rolloffs. And we had hundreds
of them for 42 days. They basically
served as storage. They were not good storage. I’ll tell you that much. OK, thank you. Bill Prince asks, what
happened to the carcasses while the incinerator/landfill
was being prepared? They were sitting in those
rolloffs for 42 days. Not pleasant. Made a lot of neighbors
happy, I’m sure. They asked for a very
large can of Febreze. [LAUGHTER] Bill Prior asks, if
groundwater is contaminated by leachate in a non-farm
burial, would it in time decontaminate itself? And I think the answer is yes. Natural attenuation does occur. But the length of time it takes
and how far the plume would go before that happened
would be the concern. Thank you. Robert Sylvester asks,
should staff working in streams and wetland
areas be as concerned regarding biosecurity protocols
are those employees working directly with farmers
or poultry producers? I think that– I guess any
of us could answer that. But I think that
any time we’re going to come in contact
with migratory fowl, we’ve got a chance of picking up
the virus and transporting it. So if you’re working along a
stream or working along a pond, then there’s always
a chance that you’re going to pick up something from
the feces of migratory fowl. And so you might want
to be concerned with it. Delany Johnson asked, how
readily do animal carcasses break down in landfill systems. I can take that one. It depends on how the
landfill is managed. If the landfill uses a leachate
collection and recirculation system, it would be faster
than one that does not. I don’t know the exact amount
of time for the carcass to break down. But I can tell you that the
virus will be inactivated in less than 30 days. OK. Kevin [INAUDIBLE]
says, those ag bags are attracted to
peers at a fence. That’s probably good advice. Fence the bears out. Dave McMillin says is there
any research on pathogen life and movement in burial sites? Another great question. So, no. We would like to have some
research on pathogen life and movement in burial sites. But we don’t have any
good data at this time. The data we do have shows that
avian influenza virus survives water at 55 degrees Fahrenheit
for more than 30 days. And that is the average
groundwater temperature. So just based on temperature,
it has the potential to live quite a long time. There have been some studies
trying to look at active virus. But there’s been reluctance. So we tried to team
up with South Korea to study the presence of
FMD or not in leachate from their burial sites. And they ultimately were
not able to do the study because it would have affected
their international trade status. If we had found
it, then they could have been prevented
from gaining open trade. And that would have
been unfair to them because no other country would
have that same restriction. So that study was
not done in situ. Another has been worked
with landfill leachate. And that shows that the
viruses in landfill conditions survive less than 30 days. Chris Carreal says,
will the attendees of the upcoming compost training
be considered subject matter experts after, or will they have
to demonstrate their abilities with a response? If they will be
considered experts after, how many more composting
experts do you expect will be available
for response efforts? Thanks. So I can take that as well. There are 22 slots for the
compost mortality composting class to be held in November. APHIS is paying for that,
for those 22 people. It turns out that APHIS
is only able to pay for APHIS personnel. So the decision was just made
that only APHIS personnel will be attending
the November class. However, the main compost school
who’s putting on that class plans to hold an open school,
I think in the spring. I would have to
double check on that. So there will be an
opportunity for non-APHIS folks to take that class. So for the 22 that are going
to be trained in November, they are going to be apprentice
experts, if you will. They will have to pass a test. They will have to demonstrate
they can troubleshoot problems with piles before they
get their certificate. They will have to shadow
someone during a response. And as to your last
question, will they be considered experts after? as the outbreak gets bigger,
the bar for being an expert gets lower. [INAUDIBLE] Yes, so I think those 22
would be pretty solid. I would prefer if they not go
out on their own right away and they do shadow someone. But they may be forced
to go out on their own. Just as long as the experts
don’t become the guy from out of town
with a clipboard. So Lori and Glenn, I have
the main compost school flyer for their 2016 date. And they have June 20 through
24 and then October 17 to the 21st. And so that’s their standard
compost school, which does not focus on infected mortality. So they’re going to have
an additional class? Yes, that’s my understanding. I think he said April. Bill Prior asks, what
percentage of infected farms never return to production? Well, I don’t know
the answer to that. I’m not sure if
there is an answer. I would say that there probably,
particularly with the egg industry, with the
egg farms, there may be some that have been
returned to production yet, just because of the fact that
there aren’t that many pullets ready to go to be put
into laying houses. So that might be a problem
bringing back the supply of eggs just because of that. And last status update I saw,
we were at about 170 out of 197. And I don’t know why that’s
different than the 211. So we’re getting 80%, maybe 90%
of all of the infected farms are eligible to restock. Whether they do or not
is an economic decision they will have to make. Holli says, stay
with us if you can. But if you need to move out
and want to learn to CEUs, you can return to
conservation webinars at this time to
complete step two. Kevin [INAUDIBLE] says, just
a thought, no need to respond. A leach field is just
that, a field that leaches. Perhaps one needs to look at
plants and fungal plant soil associations of
native soil to treat waters impacted by what
are considered wastes unfortunately. Yeah, I think that’s right. But it comes down
to the fact that it doesn’t seem to matter how much
we know and how much we learn. There’s always
something more to know and something more to learn. It’s just amazing,
the number of holes there are in research
of all sorts. And I just want to
mention that Virginia is working on a study for what
they call above ground burial. And it involves planting
the surface of the mounds with hydrophilic plants. So that work is going on. Carl Dupold says, how have
these outbreaks affected the price of poultry products? Well, if you’ve done any
shopping, the price of eggs doubled in about a six-week
period earlier this spring. And it’s held up there. We were at a meeting
last week where one of the egg producers
that was impacted in Iowa indicated that if the
egg industry was impacted as much this fall as it
was this spring that we’d be looking at $6 a dozen
eggs in grocery stores. So there’s been a
big impact on prices. Most of the market for
turkey from Minnesota is in fall for Thanksgiving. But I expect that if
can find a cheap turkey and keep it in your freezer
at this point in time, you might want to do
that for Thanksgiving. Carl Dupold says, migratory
fowl are a concern for spreading avian influenza. Lots of concerns to consider. Any suggestions? I was flippantly was
going to say a 12 gauge. Well, I have a couple– so
I think the earlier question about, should folks who have
work in wetlands and ponds and where waterfowl
congregate, should they be taking biosecurity precautions? I think that certainly
for if the same gear will be used to go to a domestic
herd to a poultry production facility, I think
yes, biosecurity would be very important. I agree. I agree. Bob Sylvester says, at what
point in late fall or winter can we become less concerned
with high path avian influenza until we resume
when spring arrives? I would think once
it comes, it comes. Flu viruses, influenza viruses
are cold-loving viruses. That’s why we all get the
flu in the wintertime. So if it appears, I would expect
that it would be a problem. And it’s my understanding
also that the Atlantic flyways that we’re going to see a lot of
migration starting mid-October. We should keep our
ears perked up. That’s when the birds will start
reaching Delmarva and then down into the Carolinas. Last year we didn’t see
any commercial outbreak until January. The one thing– I think we were
in a meeting a few weeks ago, Lori. Somebody from Fish and Wildlife,
from that agency, indicated that one of the things they’d
monitored earlier last spring was with the incidence
of dead geese, because this
particular flu, rather than being harbored by
geese, actually killed geese. So when people
started identifying, started asking questions
about dead geese, finding dead geese
in the area, it became a monitoring thing
for the avian influenza. OK, I think we’re
done with questions. Holli, what do we do now? Well, you can wrap up with
whatever concluding comments you want to make. I appreciate everybody’s time. I saw at one point
in time, that one point in time we had 476
individuals on the webinar. And I think that’s
pretty darn good. I’m glad people are this
interested and this concerned about the situation. Now do you do the quiz? I’ll take it from here, Glenn. I appreciate it. No problem. So yeah, total logins
was right around 500. And even right now at the
end, we’ve got about 250 and through the Q&A,
somewhere around 350, so really interested group of
participants and nicely done. So I want to thank all
of you, the participants, and Lori, Cherie, and Glenn
for making the presentation. Appreciate your
time and effort that goes into a webinar like this. Thanks for organizing it. No problem. Happy to do it. So for participants, if you’re
ready to provide your feedback and take your quiz
to earn your CEUs, you’ll just go back to your
open conservation browser, openconservationwebinars.net
browser window to complete the process
that’s offered by step two. And the traffic has probably
slowed down a little bit. But if the page is a
little bit slow to load, just be patient, because this
was a very big webinar today. So with that, that concludes
our webinar presentation today. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thanks.

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