During an Avian Influenza outbreak the bird carcasses need to be euthanized and destroyed with as little handling and movement as possible to prevent further spread of the disease. There are not many options for accomplishing that task. One of the most successful methods is the use of Air Curtain Burners manufactured by Air Burners, Inc. These machines have been successfully deployed in animal disease outbreaks around the world and many of the technical or scientific reports from these deployments are available on the Air Burners website or by request from Air Burners.
Animal Carcass Burning
Many Air Burners machines have been purchased by government agencies to meet bio-terrorism contingencies, as Agriculture-Terror (“AG-Terror”) is an ongoing concern. Air Burners FireBoxes are the only portable field option available to safely destroy a large herd or flock of animals poisoned in a bioterrorism attack. The machines can be transported, delivered and be operational within hours of an outbreak.
Some bird carcasses, such as chickens that contain high levels of water, must best be introduced into the firebox immediately upon euthanization, as they tend to decompose very rapidly in the open environment. Wild birds that have died from the bird flu must be collected swiftly and completely to avoid their consumption as food by mammals and vultures. The cross contamination of mammals, such as cats or badgers is of extreme concern, as it would manifest the spreading of the virus across species and possibly mutations of the virus which is very resilient and can survive in the environment at quite extreme conditions. It is the fear of such mutations that may result and have resulted in the contraction of an H5N1 type virus by humans in Asia and the Middle East.
1) The patented Diesel burner augmentation for areas where wood is scarce and where coal as a substitute for wood is also unavailable. The FireBoxes can be fitted with automatically controlled Diesel burners. These DB-Versions can be operated as standard FireBoxes and their combustion capacity can be augmented on an as-needed basis by flame burners, should wood waste or coal be scarce to support combustion of carcasses or other waste streams.
2) Air Burners FireBoxes are available as R-Versions for self-loading and self-unloading by the use of standard US or international roll-off trucks.
Standard Firebox Use
The S-Series fireboxes lend themselves best for bird carcass destruction. They are fully self-contained and they do not require any set up at site. The units are ready to load and start burning as soon as they are off the trailer. They are fully portable and transportable on a variety of standard trailers, including standard self-loading and unloading trailers and roll-off trucks.
The Fireboxes can be transported by flatbed truck as depicted below or
they can be transported by a standard self-loading roll-on / roll-off truck.
Fuel Loading Start the fire as outlined in the Air Burners operating manual. The most important issue in preparing to burn carcasses is to insure that you have a good hot fire base before you load any carcasses. This start-up preparation usually takes one to two hours of wood or coal only burning. It must be made certain that the entire bottom of the firebox is covered with at least two feet of burning hot material (hot coals from wood or black coal). If you load too soon, the carcasses may fall through onto the dirt and there will be no heat or fire to burn them. They will eventually burn, but the overall through-put will suffer and smoke may increase.
Once loading carcasses has begun the process is to build layers. After each layer of bird carcasses an equal amount of wood (or some coal) must be introduced.
The most common mistake is to “rush the fire.” The through-put will start out low and increase as the day goes on. If you rush the fire by adding carcasses and wood too fast, then the overall temperature will drop, the smoke will increase and the through-put will go down significantly. Remember, the wood (or coal) is your fuel; be sure it is burning strong, before you load more carcasses onto it. This is especially true for chicken carcasses.
Carcass Loading Using the appropriate loading machinery, try to place the carcasses in the middle section of the firebox. The photo above shows bird carcasses being introduced into a standard S-300 firebox. The important thing to remember is that rapid incineration is all about surface area. If you place a massive pile of carcasses in the middle of the firebox, then the carcasses will incinerate around the entire external area of the carcass deposits. If you pile that same carcass volume up against the firebox wall, then the carcasses will only incinerate from the exposed areas, and the through-put will slow down.
Loading Equipment For bird carcasses, a wheeled loader with a rake is practical. Using a wheeled loader with a bucket is also possible, but one of the problems with a bucket is the potential for “scooping” up dirt when picking up the bird carcasses. Dirt smothers the fire, and the more dirt that goes into the firebox the slower the operation will be. An excavator with a grapple works well, if the carcasses are large and mostly intact. It also is effective for loading the wood waste to support combustion.
Shut Down Once you have finished loading the carcasses continue to add wood until the last load of carcasses has been incinerated, usually in about one hour. Then follow normal shut down procedure described in the operating manual.
Ash Removal In all of the cases where the residual ash has been tested after the incineration operations using the Air Burners machines, the ash has been found to be sterile. For ash removal follow normal procedures outlined in the operating manual. Whether the ashes should be dumped or land applied (buried) is usually a decision of the competent local authorities.
A useful implement for ash removal is the “ash-rake” made by Air Burners for its FireBoxes. The ash-rake is fitted with a universal quick disconnect faceplate for use with a Bobcat, Skidsteer, loader, etc.
Only personnel trained in the operation of the air curtain burner should come within 300 feet of the entire FireBox operation. This guideline only addresses the basic operation of the FireBox itself and it does not address considerations relative to possibly present contagious or poisonous agents and the procedures and safety requirements governing human exposure to them or environmental issues and other safety considerations connected to them. They would be addressed and managed by the HazMat safety team assigned to the disaster recovery operation.
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