Radiological Planning and Animal Agriculture

Guest blogger Curt Emanuel is County Extension Director in Boone County, Indiana. He is also an EDEN delegate representing Purdue University.

angus cross beef steers feed on grass on a ranch in northeastern Texas

Are you a livestock owner located within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant? Is there a site nearby where radiological materials are stored or manufactured? Is your farm near a highway or railway over which nuclear materials are transported? Are you near a nuclear waste storage facility, nuclear weapons complex, or shipyard where nuclear-powered vessels are docked or serviced? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then planning for a radiological incident should be part of your farm’s emergency plan.

Many people, on hearing the word, radiation, have visions of a nuclear holocaust. However, a radiological incident from a domestic source will most likely be a low level release involving contaminated airborne particles. The landscape will not begin to glow, your hair will not begin to fall out, and you won’t suffer immediate radiation sickness. But this does not mean this type of release poses no hazard. You should still protect yourself and your family and, if you own livestock, you should protect your animals.

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC) is the lead agency for planning for a radiological emergency. In cooperation with other agencies, the U.S. NRC has developed a series of steps, known as protective actions, which livestock owners may be instructed to take in case of an incident. Knowing what these steps are and making sure you are able to perform them is the key to developing your emergency plan.

How to Protect Your Livestock

Protective actions for livestock are designed to keep the animals from getting radioactive materials in them, through inhalation or ingestion, or on them. If a radiological incident occurs you may be instructed to:

  • Bring your animals in to shelter
  • Only feed and water animals from protected sources
  • Restrict grazing on pasture
  • Reduce the ventilation in your livestock barns to prevent radioactive particles from entering buildings
  • Cover any unprotected feed and water sources

There are many resources available to help you develop your plan. States with a nuclear power plant have instructions on what to do in a radiological event, including information specifically for owners of livestock. Even states without a nuclear power plant have plans to address radiological emergencies. Check with your state Emergency Management Agency, Health Department, or Department of Agriculture.

Among other things, your plan should insure that you have enough protected feed and water for seven days. You should have tarps or six mil (minimum) thickness plastic to cover unprotected feed, such as hay stored outside, and water sources and water troughs. You should know how you will quickly move your animals to shelter and how low you can safely adjust the ventilation of confinement buildings.

Most importantly, you should be aware of how you can listen to emergency messages. Remember that you should never put you or your family at risk to protect an animal.

And always listen to and
follow
all emergency messages!

Free Webinar on this Topic

Curt and Dr. Julie Smith recently conducted a webinar on radiological events and animal agriculture. Watch the recording for additional tips on preparing for such an emergency.

Watch this Webinar

Summer 2015 EDEN Newsletter

In This Issue

From the Chair

Dr. Mike Yoder formal photographAs we reach the mid-point of summer, it is time to register for the 2015 EDEN Annual Meeting, to be held October 6-9, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  This year’s meeting logo is “Enroute to the Next 20 Years,” a recognition of our efforts during the first 20 years and look at our vision for the next 20.

An exciting pre-conference tour is being planned by the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Management Center.  This tour promises an up-close and personal view of the issues facing border states.  Participation in this tour is limited, so register soon.

The planning committee has put together a great program with workshops, workgroup meetings, a report from NIFA and an update about the new EDEN Strategic Plan, a look at the opportunities EDEN has for collaboration with our 1984 Land Grant institutions, and more.

Following the Friday workshop, “Making EDEN Work for You,” those who are interested are invited to travel to Albuquerque, NM for the 2015 Balloon Fiesta.  This tour promises to provide a memorable ending to the week.

The EDEN Exercise Ad-Hock Committee has been busy this past year and while I don’t want to steal the thunder from their presentation at the annual meeting, their recent survey, measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of EDEN’s ability to disseminate information, provided impressive results.  To hear specifics, you will need to listen to Michael Gaffney’s (committee Co-Chair) presentation Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

Since January, the EDEN Executive Committee has been planning for a September meeting with selected Extension Directors,   and Beverly Samuel, NIFA National Program Leader, Jane Schuchardt, Executive Director, ECOP/APLU, and Nick Place, EDEN’s representative to ECOP.  The purpose of the meeting is to allow the Extension Directors to provide input regarding the future direction of EDEN.  Input from this meeting will be included in the future strategic planning process.  We have never had this opportunity to bring the directors to the table for these discussions and look forward to a productive and informative meeting.

I hope to see everyone in Las Cruces in October.  Take a minute right now to register and reserve your hotel rooms! –Mike Yoder, EDEN Chair

HPAI Update

On July 7, 2015, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition held a public hearing on the impacts of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on the U.S. poultry sector. The key witness, Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator of Veterinary Services at the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), started his testimony with a chilling statement: “Today, we are facing the largest animal health emergency in this country’s history. We are dealing with an unprecedented outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that is taking a heavy toll on the poultry industry.” Indeed, USDA has Commercial Broiler House with Birdsconfirmed HPAI in 21 states, which includes nine states where HPAI was identified in commercial poultry. Of the 232 total poultry premises with confirmed cases of HPAI, 211 are commercial facilities where 7.5 million turkeys and 42 million chickens and pullets have been depopulated. USDA has committed over $500 million – an amount more than half of APHIS’ yearly discretionary budget – in addressing this outbreak.

How did this devastating outbreak occur in the first place? According to USDA scientists, the HPAI H5N8 virus originated in Asia and spread rapidly along wild bird migratory pathways in 2014. Dr. Clifford reported that wild ducks and geese brought the disease first to the Pacific flyway, and later to the Central and Mississippi flyways. Initial detections in the United States were in wild birds and backyard flocks, and may have resulted from direct contact with sick migratory birds. USDA epidemiologists believe that wild birds were responsible for introducing HPAI into the environment, and from there it was spread into commercial poultry houses. Further investigation by USDA scientists showed that the virus was introduced into commercial poultry facilities from the environment or from farm-to-farm transmission on human sources such as boots or equipment. Dr. Clifford pointed out that APHIS cannot associate transmission of the disease with any single one of those factors, but it seems clear that lateral spread occurred when biosecurity measures that are sufficient in ordinary times were not sufficient in the face of such a large amount of virus in the environment.  While the results of USDA’s preliminary epidemiological investigation did not show a single source of transmission, it did emphasize the importance and need for improved biosecurity. Dr. Clifford also stressed that USDA is treating the potential threat of more infections in the fall with the utmost seriousness as it is very likely that wild birds will carry the virus with them when they begin migrating south in the fall.  When asked about the use of vaccines to prevent and control HPAI, Dr. Clifford said this is being studied but cannot be adopted until a suitable vaccine is found and trade implications are clarified with countries that import U.S. poultry products.

Poultry industry representatives also testified at the hearing and thanked USDA for its support while stating that indemnification guidelines and depopulation and disposal measures need to be improved. No new outbreaks have been reported since the last confirmed detection of HPAI in a layer flock in Iowa on June 17, 2015 and many affected farms are beginning to repopulate their flocks.

Article by Nathaniel Tablante – EDEN Delegate and University of Maryland Point of Contact

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Weather Wednesday – Tropical Depression Bill and Flooding

It’s often said in areas of drought in the southern U.S. that it takes a tropical storm to reverse the situation. This year, as we know, the Texas-Oklahoma drought was fairly well broken by a lingering storm system over Memorial Day weekend which resulted in more than 30 deaths.

BILL_qpfNow comes what is left of Tropical Storm Bill, already as of this morning, reduced to a tropical depression. Some parts of Texas into Arkansas may see 2 to 5-inches of rain in the next day. While these rain totals don’t match some from the Memorial Day storms, they are excessive and flash flooding is a possibility.

As the remnants of Bill move slowly to the northeast across the next several days the heaviest rain will eventually spread into southern Illinois and on to Indiana by late Friday night into Saturday. Here’s the latest hydrological forecast discussion.

In fact, the remnants of Bill will interact with a stalled frontal system which has caused periodic heavy rain for more than a week as it waffled up and down across Illinois and nearby states.flood map Flood warnings have been issued for several rivers in Illinois and extend into portions of the Mississippi River bordering the state. Flooding in Illinois ranges from major to minor and areas of heaviest precipitation have varied daily.

On Monday, tornado warning sirens sounded in downtown Chicago, a relatively rare occurrence. A funnel cloud was observed east of Midway Airport and another near Millenium Park which is just east of Michigan Avenue in the heart of the city. No touchdowns were reported, but some photos taken at the time show an unmistakable wall cloud.

http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/hpcdiscussions.php?disc=qpfpfd

http://videowall.accuweather.com/detail/videos/trending-now/video/4299689121001/watch:-huge-wall-cloud-moves-over-chicago?autoStart=true