Disposing of carcasses after bushfire, flood or drought

It is the responsibility of the individual responsible/undertaking the burial of dead livestock to minimise any risks to human health or environment so far as reasonable practical. This is a general requirement (duty) of the Environment Protection Act (2017) (section 25 - General Environment Duty).

It is EPA’s strong preference that at all reasonable attempts are made to dispose of dead livestock at an approved facility. This may be an EPA licence landfill, rendering/abattoir or knackery.

Any stockpile disposal under 500 sheep or 150 cattle needs to follow the guidance detailed in the attached publications;

  1. Publication IWRG641.1 – Farm waste management (attached) – This publication provides high level guidance on the siting of burial pits. The general guidance is as followings:

To reduce environmental impacts, an on-farm burial site should be set up as follows:

  • On elevated land with a slope of less than five per cent, to allow proper drainage and prevent pooling of water following a rain event
  • At least two metres between the water table and the base of the pit, considering site specific geology and impact into groundwater
  • At least 200 metres from any surface waters
  • At least 300 metres from neighbouring houses
  • Avoiding highly or moderately permeable soils.

You should also:  

  • Cover the carcasses with at least one metre of soil
  • Where necessary, direct surface run-off away from the pit
  • Slightly mound the pit after backfilling.
  1. AgVic publication Disposing of carcasses after bushfire flood or drought. This guidance also includes specifics on siting of burial pits to eliminate risks to groundwater bores etc.
  2. Publication 1738 – Fact Sheet:  Disposal of bushfire waste (attached) – This guidance details the requirement for an EPA approval for burials of over 500 sheep and 150 cattle.

Any stock disposals over 500 sheep or 150 cattle will need an EPA approval. This will be a section 157 approval, which is an emergency approval for waste management to meet a temporary emergency or for temporary relief of public hardship.

For EPA Emergency Approvals, please contact the EPA Call Centre on 1300 372 842.

If residents have already dug a pit to bury livestock, they can contact Kiara Silvester on 0435 815 941 who will arrange to inspect the site.