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Guidance for emergency burial of carcasses

08 January 2013

The following guidance is provided for the emergency burial of carcasses resulting from the recent fires

  • Carcasses left above ground may pose health, biosecurity and environmental risks and so rapid burial is recommended at the most appropriate site available.
  • Carcasses burial must only occur with consent of the land owner.  Records should be kept by the land owner of all burial pit locations and the quantity of material that has been buried at each location.  
  • Please give careful consideration to the location of the burial pits to prevent any contamination of surface or ground waters and subsequent risk to human and animal health and to the environment.  
  • Burial sites must not contain more than 20 tonnes of carcasses in a single pit as there is a risk of generating large quantities of leachate.  
  • Ideal sites for carcass burial will have the following characteristics

o    Deep clay textured soils
o    Ground water table separation distance from the bottom of the pit of at least 2 meters
o    Slope less than 10%
o    A location that complies with the following buffer distances (try to comply with these buffer distances if it at all possible):


    Buffer distance (m)

    Watercourse and dams


    Residence and sensitive areas


    Property boundary


    Drinking water bore


  • Saw dust can be added to the bottom of pits to reduce risk of leachate generation.  
  • It is not recommended that lime be added to pits unless there is a biosecurity reason for doing so as this will reduce the decomposition rate of the carcasses.
  • Surface drainage should be directed away from the pit location by setting up diversion drains up slope of the pit location.
  • When full the pit must be covered with a minimum of 1 m depth of soil.  The soil should be mounded over the pit to prevent rain collecting in the pit.  The pit cover will subside as the carcasses break down.
  • This  information has been provided by the Director, Environment Protection Agency.  Should you require further information please contact he EPA on 6233 6659

The DPIPWE website has more information on Animal Welfare During Bushfires.