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Emergency Animal Mortality Management for Non-Disease Scenarios

VA DEQ and USDA NRCS Planning Efforts

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have identified management options for potential emergency poultry and swine depopulation or mortality events in non-disease scenarios, such as storm events or supply chain interruptions due to the effects of COVID-19 on meat processing plants.
 
This information is not intended for animal-disease scenarios, such as avian influenza, which requires more stringent biosecurity protocols and additional coordination with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

Animal Mortality Management Hierarchy

DEQ recognizes that animal disposal options vary across the Commonwealth. This hierarchy formally recognizes DEQ’s ordered preference of mortality management options in Virginia: 

1. Rendering
2. On-site Composting
3. Off-site Concentrated Composting
4. On-site Above-Ground (Shallow) Burial
5. Incineration at Permitted Incinerator with Air Pollution Control Equipment
6. Disposal in Permitted Sanitary Landfill
7. Below-Ground (Deep) Burial

See Table 1. for a summary of mortality management requirements.

Reporting Emergency Animal Depopulation and Mortality Events to DEQ

To notify and request DEQ assistance for emergency animal depopulation and mortality management, USDA, poultry and swine integrators, farm owners, and others should call the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at (800) 468-8892. 
 
For non-emergencies, the public may contact Betsy Bowles (DEQ Animal Feeding Operations & Animal Waste Program Coordinator) at (804) 698-4059, or Priscilla Rohrer (DEQ Solid Waste Compliance Coordinator) at (540) 574-7852, during business hours (Monday – Friday; 8:30AM- 4:30PM).

DEQ Response

DEQ will assist USDA NRCS in providing oversight of all mortality management activities. If the mortalities will be managed on the producer's farm through on-site composting or on-site shallow burial, DEQ subject matter experts will provide technical assistance on siting, carbon sourcing, management, and end use of compost. If the mortalities will be disposed in a permitted sanitary landfill, a Special Waste Disposal Request (SWDR) Form for Emergency Animal Mortality is required. For off-site concentrated composting or below-ground (deep) burial, an emergency solid waste permit application is required. DEQ regional solid waste program staff will evaluate all landfill SWDR forms and emergency solid waste permit applications on a case-by-case basis and provide a written response to the applicant.

DEQ Site Visits / Inspections

If mortalities are managed through on-farm composting or on-farm shallow burial, DEQ will conduct site visits to provide compliance assistance, as needed. Where an emergency solid waste permit is issued, DEQ will conduct periodic inspections using the siting, operational and closure criteria required by the emergency solid waste permit. Where a SWDR is approved, DEQ will conduct a landfill inspection using the special waste disposal conditions required as part of the SWDR approval. Additionally, DEQ animal waste staff can provide compliance assistance for the other disposal methods not mentioned above. DEQ regional staff in the solid waste programs and animal waste programs will coordinate any site visits or inspections.

Biosecurity

When conducting site visits or inspections at animal mortality management sites, DEQ staff will follow the agency's biosecurity guidance, which requires staff to use boot covers and Virkon-S to decontaminate boots and truck tires.
 
 
Table 1. Animal Mortality Management Requirements
Mortality management deq permit required deq form required comments
1. Rendering No N/A N/A
2. On-Site Composting (On-Site of farm of generation) No N/A

May be in house or outside

Setbacks recommended per DEQ Guidance: On-Site Composting of Routine Animal Mortality

Use USDA-APHIS poultry or livestock mortality composting guidelines

3. Off-Site Concentrated Composting (Off-Site of farm of generation) Yes Emergency Solid Waste Permit Application Form for Off-Site Animal Mortality Composting

May be in house or outside

Permit specifies required setbacks and conditions; permit fee required

Use USDA-APHIS poultry or livestock mortality composting guidelines

Permit also required for Off-Site above-ground (shallow) burial up to 20 inches below-ground surface

4. On-Site Above-Ground (Shallow) Burial

(up to 20 inches below-ground surface on-site of farm of generation)

No N/A

Setbacks recommended per DEQ Guidance: On-site Composting of Routine Animal Mortality

Use USDA APHIS above-ground (shallow) burial guidelines

Note: Emergency Solid Waste Permits are required for Off-Site above-ground (shallow) burial

5. Incineration at Permitted Incinerator with Air Pollution Control Equipment Yes N/A

Limited (if any) capacity in Virginia

Open burning and air curtain incinerators are not an option

6. Disposal in Permitted (Subtitle D) Sanitary Landfill Yes Special Waste Disposal Request Form for Emergency Animal Mortality

Two-part form to be filled out by generator and landfill

Form specifies waste handling and disposal criteria

7. Below-Ground (Deep) Burial

(over 20 inches below-ground surface at any site)

Yes Emergency Solid Waste Permit Application Form for Animal Mortality Burial

Only allowed if all other options are exhausted

Permit specifies required setbacks and conditions; permit fee required

 
 
 
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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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