Written by Katharine Richter
On August 14, 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) titled, “Carcass Management During a Mass Animal Health Emergency.”
The draft EIS was created to help “APHIS  effectively manage livestock carcasses in a mass animal health emergency to reduce potential risks to humans, animal, and environmental health.”
APHIS presents three options on handling animal carcasses which are labelled as no action alternative, standard procedures alternative, and adaptive management alternative. Under the no action alternative, APHIS would continue handling the carcasses using either “unlined burial or open-air burning.” Under the standard procedures alternative, APHIS would allow four additional disposal options than the no action option. The additional options would be “…composting, rendering, landfills compliant with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and/or fixed-facility incineration…” The final option is the adaptive management alternative which would allow “all available carcass management options to be considered and potentially used during a mass animal health emergency.”
The draft EIS analyzes each of these approaches potential environmental impact in regards to a variety of topics including soil quality, air quality, water quality, vegetation and human health. Although this draft was created before the 2014 outbreak of HPAI, it will impact how potential future outbreaks are handled. The draft EIS comment period will be open to the public for 60 days.