APHIS issues final carcass disposal EIS

EIS evaluated carcass management alternatives that could be implemented during an animal health emergency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for carcass management alternatives that could be implemented during an animal health emergency.

Large numbers of livestock carcasses in a single location can present a potential environmental risk. The agency must effectively manage carcasses in a mass animal health emergency to reduce potential risks to people, livestock and the surrounding environment.

In the EIS, APHIS evaluated three alternatives, including:

* Taking no action, under which APHIS would manage carcasses in a mass animal health emergency in accordance with the existing regulations in 9 CFR 53.4, using either unlined burial or open-air burning.

* Using standard procedures, which would consider four additional carcass-management options — landfill, rendering, fixed incineration and composting — in addition to those listed in the no action alternative.

* Adaptive management, chosen as the preferred alternative, which allows for all high-capacity, widely-available carcass management options — including unlined burial, open-air burning, landfill, rendering, incineration, composting and other nonstandard options — to be considered and potentially used during a mass animal health emergency. This chosen alternative is expected to provide greater flexibility for using the best available resources in such an event.

The EIS finds that carcasses resulting from an animal health emergency can be disposed of safely using a variety of available methods. The EIS is not specific to any one animal disease. The findings of the EIS will be used to support animal health emergency planning and decision-making.

The final EIS is available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/stakeholders/downloads/2015/eis_carcass_management.pdf.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will publish a notice of availability in the Federal Register on Dec. 18. APHIS will consider all comments received on or before Jan. 17, 2016, in the Record of Decision.

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