Mechanical issues at the Baker Commodities rendering plant in Kerman led to an emergency in Kings County for disposing animal carcasses last year. Image via Google Earth

published on March 2, 2020 - 1:00 PM
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The Kings County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting Tuesday to decide how to dispose of animal carcasses on farms and dairies in the county.

Carcasses are piling up after the South Valley’s only rendering plant was forced to stop picking up dead cows, bulls and horses on Feb. 24 after mechanical issues forced a severe slowdown of its operations.

Baker Commodities, Inc. is the only provider of rendering services for livestock producers within Kings and the rest of the South Valley, first removing the animals’ hides at its Hanford facility and then hauling the rest of the carcasses to its Kerman facility near Jensen and Lassen avenues to complete the rendering process.

A report to the Kings County supervisors doesn’t specify what machinery is inoperable at Baker’s operation, but it does state that carcass pickups may start again on Tuesday at the earliest. The report doesn’t estimate how long it may take Baker to clear the backlog of carcasses.

Two days after Baker stopped picking up carcasses, the Kings County Emergency Services director proclaimed a local emergency.

“Without additional disposal options for livestock businesses, there is a potential for the accumulation of animal carcasses, which may create sanitary and safety issues for these businesses. The emergency proclamation helps minimize the risks of accumulating livestock carcasses by designating alternative disposal sites in accordance with the County Emergency Action Plan for Dead Animal Management,” the county report states.

As for Kings County’s options, it says they include disposal at a permitted landfill that will accept the animal carcasses, temporary composting on-site and on-site burials in emergency landfills.

Each business wishing to utilize an alternative disposal method must first obtain a discharge waiver from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, which can issue the waivers during a locally proclaimed emergency to designate alternative disposal methods.

“Waste Management’s Kettleman Hills Facility has also implanted a livestock disposal procedure that can be used during the proclamation of local emergency,” the report continues.

“As a courtesy, county Environmental

Health staff will also provide an inspection of self-haul trailers by request and as staffing resources allow, assisting operators in identifying any readily apparent problems in complying with the Waste Management disposal requirements. This inspection will not guarantee acceptance at the landfill but provide some additional guidance and assistance.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what actions, if any, other South Valley counties are taking in response to the rendering plant problems.

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