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Associated with large disasters and catastrophes there is often the problem of disposal of large numbers of corpses and dismembered body parts. While it might seem a benefit to have the assistance of those experienced in mortician services their skills may be largely inapplicable to a holocaust situation. Indeed, even disaster specialists will find new challenges perhaps not to be found in other disasters.

The niceties of mortuary services in embalming, funerary practices and such will have to be dispensed with. While for ethical/religious reasons some may be inclined towards either burial or incineration the exigencies of the time may dictate the actual methods used.

In certain areas the disposal of human bodies may pale in the face of need for disposal of large herds of cattle and/or other livestock. In past disasters where resources were available, perhaps from elsewhere, and there was large heavy machinery, and fuel to operate it, then a solution was in using bulldozers and backhoes to dig pits and move the carcasses. This may be difficult to achieve.

The burning of carcasses may be even more problematical, given the demand for fuel and facilities, but the best guidelines that I have found so far are in state instructions for animal disposal. Here is some information I have saved:

Dead Animal Disposal

Disposal Overview



Nuclear war would add an additional catastrophic challenge to body disposal in that while it is desirable to dispose of dead bodies as quickly as possible, ideally within 72 hours maximum even in cooler climates, the circumstances of radioactive fallout may not permit initial attention to the problem for two or three weeks and then the immensity of the problem may require many weeks or even months to complete.

This is a task that will require the dedication of such resources and personnel as are available and necessary. Because of the very serious health threat in handling aging corpses particular concern will need to be paid to selecting and supporting the required personnel. Even after the task is completed, the personnel involved may need to be isolated and quarantined from the rest of the population - perhaps for some substantial period of time. (A minimum of six weeks is usually recommended - while in the past some authorities have recommended 6 months where graves were being moved where the cadavers had been exposed to things like the plague).

Inoculation of the personnel involved would be a nicety if available, however, other matters of hygiene need to be rigidly observed. Special garments resistant to contaminations (rubberized would be excellent) - along with good regular cleaning and decontamination of those garments. Use of gloves and masks. Good shower facilities with scrub brushes that are used after each shift. Special diet and not overly exhaustive shifts so as to not weaken the physical stamina of the personnel as that would weaken their immune systems.

Particular attention needs to be given to air masks - both for reduction of the stench involved and to reduce the inhalation of contaminants. Personnel should rapidly gain some expertise in learning to work from an upwind position as much as possible and in using tools and equipment to handle the remains without having to touch them directly.

Here are two pamphlets as how to make air masks:

How To Make A Fumigating Mask

    This 847 KB 3 page pamphlet explains making a simple mask.
How To Make An Emergency Gas Mask.pdf
    This 0898 KB 3 page pamphlet explains how to make an emergency gas mask.
Below, I am making available a test case that may somewhat demonstrate the expected severity of the problem. This was the 2001 FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) epidemic in Britain, during the peak of which there were slaughtered a half million animals each week for several weeks. One must remember that this was but a fraction of the animal population and did not include many types.

The other deficiency in this model is that there was a healthy human population with extensive mechanical and energy resources to handle the disposal. The numbers of personnel during the peak weeks numbered about 1500 veterinary personnel and 2000 military personnel for a total of 3500 total personnel. Consider this in relation to holocaust situation where there may be about 20% of the population left to bury 80% of the human population and almost 100% of the animal population.

Even the poultry population presently out numbers the human population about three to one. The catastrophe may be of such a nature that there may be large segments with no remains left to bury but, nevertheless, without extensive resources of machinery and fuel, it is going to be a daunting initial task.

The following article discusses a number of critical issues such as transportation, decontamination, the used of burning pyres, land fills and burial pits and concerns about water table contamination. Because large cows are the most difficult common carcass requiring disposal - the principles involved here, by extension, have the broadest overall application.

Animal Disposal During an Epidemic

Here is another thought. Those animals that are not killed - may try to kill us. You may wish to consider the following:

What will you do with the dogs?

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