As if incineration was not a scary thought, here’s an even scarier method of waste disposal – carcass incineration. Up until recently I took no notice of this, even though I was well aware of it. However, I could not help but take an interest in the subject matter and surprisingly there really is not enough information about it.
What is carcass incineration? This quite literally means the incineration of animal carcasses. This is usually done in large industrial factories or part of animal crematoriums. This has actually been important method of disposing waste and increasing environmental concerns for many years. The incineration process is the key factor in the process of carcass disposal, as it is the main source of disposing contaminated or carcasses that maybe of a health hazard safely.
There are three different types of carcass incineration processes; open air carcass burning, fixed facility incineration and air curtain incineration. Open air carcass burning is an older form of carcass disposal, which is usually the burning of carcasses on a heap of combustible materials. This has been performed in the past specifically in 1967 and 2001 during the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. The combustible heaps are called pyres and they are usually happen in an open air field.
To perform an open air carcass incineration, one is required to obtain a permit as it may not be permitted in certain areas. These are quite common in America; however, some states do not allow open air burning. As this is done out in the open, there are strict rules that one must follow before performing this, such as making sure that it is performed at least 3 kilometres away from the public and informing local communities of the action prior to burning. However the negative side to this is the amount of ash build up left behind, therefore, a large clean-up team is needed to deal with the situation.
Fixed facility incineration is another more common form of incineration. This is more recognised as being held in a crematorium, large waste incineration plants, small carcass incinerators in veterinary colleges, power plants and farm incinerators (usually on site). Fixed facility incinerators were used mainly for removing BSE infected carcasses, as well as rendered meat and tallow from the cattle carcasses. This was a normal procedure in Japan, as they would immediately dispose of BSE infected carcasses through incineration.
The third process of carcass incineration is air curtain incineration, which is a relatively new process. This uses the principles of pushing air through a manifold, causing the incineration process to accelerate by six times the normal rate. The large fans are usually diesel powered engines, forcing a large velocity of air into an incineration trench pit or metal box. The air curtain fans can vary in size depending on the amount of carcasses used to burn. The process is fast and done in a controlled environment. Usually with this kind of incineration process all that is needed is wood, with the amount of wood-to-carcass ratio calculated for effective incineration.
The US has used this form of carcass incineration to dispose of carcasses which had been affected by chronic wasting diseases. The UK had used this method to reduce the outbreak of FMD in 2001. The air curtain equipment was made mobile so they can transported from place-to-place.
Studies have shown that open air incineration can cause pollution, which is why air curtain incineration and fixed facility incineration are used more often. This was mainly due to the release chemical toxins when using various fuels to burn the carcasses. They are also labour intensive and need to be performed when there is good weather. The advantages are they tend to be low cost and efficient.
Fixed facility incineration are expensive to run, but are not labour intensive, are biosecure and eradicate infected carcasses effectively. However, they can be a problem to operate and only some of the fixed facility incinerators can burn large volumes of carcasses. Air curtain incinerators are more mobile, can be used to dispose of multiple debris volumes and are environmentally friendly. However, they take up a lot of fuel and are not deemed safe for removing infected carcasses.
anna stenning is an expert on carcass incineration having seen the affects of bse on animals and the solution to removing affected animals.