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Iowa Avian Flu Outbreak Triggers Battle Over Bird Corpse Disposal

Iowa Avian Flu Outbreak Triggers Battle Over Bird Corpse Disposal

An owner of a private landfill in Nebraska has decided not to accept the corpses of millions of birds killed in Iowa that had been infected in a mass avian flu outbreak. Federal officials approached the operator, but after he consulted with local officials and heard their concerns, he denied the request.

According to the Sioux City Journal:

"They were concerned about the potential for spreading the disease into Nebraska," Gill said.

No cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported so far in the Cornhusker State. Iowa, in comparison, has been one of the hardest hit states since the deadly virus started spreading, with more than 25 million chickens and turkeys and 44 commercial farms affected.

While it ultimately was Gill's decision, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality was involved in the discussions about possibly bringing infected birds to the Jackson landfill, said Brian McManus, a spokesman for the DEQ.

State officials were concerned especially about the infected carcasses being driven through a section of the state that includes many poultry farms.

The USDA has talked to several other landfills about disposing the birds, but none has been buried at a landfill yet.

Last week, Larry Oldenkamp, NW Iowa Solid Waste Agency, Director of Operations outlined some of Iowa's concerns about disposing the carcasses in landfills. 

In an interview with Siouxland Matters, Oldenkamp said, "You have to take in to consideration the employees, public safety, we have other trucks coming in, we probably get anywhere from 80 to 100 trucks.... You don't want your [leachate] contaminated. Ours is off site, so that's a concern."

Last week, Iowa issued temporary permits to allow for incineration of carcasses.

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