Killed pigs end up as energy

Indrek Mäe
, reporter
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EU rules say kill all pigs infected with African fever and process all animal waste that results. In Estonia, this is the job of AS Vireen, state owned and under agriculture ministry domain. 

On Vireen territory in Ebavere Village of Väike-Maarja Parish, yesterday, two waste carrying trucks were waiting to unload the cargo. Their intake is 10 tonnes. The corpses stinking ever so horribly are dumped into a mechanical crusher.  

«In the crusher, they turn into a mass of up to five millimetres in thickness,» says CEO of Vireen, Rait Persidski to describe step one.

Thereafter, the crushed mass moves into cooking kettles, to be sterilised to the backdrop of tremendous noise. «The diseases is destroyed at pressure of three bars and temperature of 133 [Celsius],» continues Mr Persidski. The kettles take 5 tonnes at a time and the process lasts up to nine hours.

In the end, some technological processes follow, and meat-and-bone meal is produced into blue containers. «This is first category meal, only usable for energy production,» explains Mr Persidski.

Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG) data says bone meal has twice the calorific value as oil shale, and may be used to produce heat. VKG press representative Jelena Derbneva said they do not use the stuff, but it is widely used in the power stations in Narva.

Capacity limited

As of today, close to 600 plague-perished pigs have been crushed at Vireen, and Mr Persidski would not exclude other measures should the fever spread.

«Our readiness ceiling is at 100 tonnes a week,» he notes, referring to need to perhaps burning the pigs on location of large farms get infected.

The initial act of burning will happen in near future, however: as announced by Veterinary and Food Board (VTA), a mobile pig burner will be used to destroy 1,200 hogs infected in Tartu County. «They will be killed by CO2 and the waste is destroyed in mobile burners,» confirmed VTA director-general Ago Pärtel.

The costly stink

To avoid the terrible stench of dead bodies from leaking into nature, Vireen employs expensive and effective technology. Getting rid of the stink is the «costliest part of the whole process,» admits the CEO: the company was only allowed into Ebavere on condition that the best means be employed to avoid smelly air in neighbourhood.

The staff, alas, will have to cope. Mr Persidski said these are experienced people, used to the stink: «Some have worked here for a decade, and are okay.»