The environmental authorities of Denmark are investigating the possibility that the millions of decomposing mink that were buried in dirt pits used as mass graves in the nationwide culling of mink farms could result in contaminated groundwater and be a threat to adjacent natural protected areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency of Denmark fears that the contamination in the groundwater can affect lakes and streams nearby.The Danish Parliament wants to establish a fact-finding commission that will investigate the culling and the mass burial.
Mass culling and burying
The government of Denmark recently directed the culling of approximately 17 million heads of mink last November of this year. This is due to the many outbreaks of the coronavirus that hundreds of mink farms caused. The authorities found the virus in mutated strains present in people, and fears of the spread of a mutated virus sparked the mass culling.
According to health authorities, the mutated virus strain was not as sensitive to the action of antibodies; thus, the government was worried that this new viral form may lessen the effect of COVID-19 vaccines.
The authorities thus took action by culling the mink in large pits within a military location in the western region of the country, burying the bodies under the ground at a depth of two meters.
However, the government later wanted them dug up again because many of the carcasses rose back to the surface, possibly because of the gases formed from the process of decomposition. These gases pushed the minks’ bodies out from the ground.
Studying the effects of the mass graves
The Environmental Protection Authority conducted a new study because it is worried that the area’s groundwater could rapidly be contaminated by the buried bodies. They urged the government to take quick action.
According to Per Schriver, department head of the EPA, the groundwater under the mink graves is imminently threatened with contamination. Schriver clarified that the graves are not located over drinking water reservoirs; they are located far from the local waterworks facility.
Unfortunately, the contaminated water may migrate to lakes and streams nearby, which can become the source of pollution.
This new EPA study was commissioned late last November. It was prepared by the Technical University of Denmark and the Geological Survey of Denmark & Greenland. Additional investigation is being conducted by the EPA to properly assess the graves’ environmental impacts, using geophysical drillings and probes. The results of this investigation will be available in early 2021.
Meanwhile, the Parliament of Denmark will form its own commission for investigating the culling and mass graves. Before their burial, the authorities reported that they pose no risk to the drinking water nor the area’s protected areas.
These graves are guarded round the clock to prevent animals and people from disturbing them. The residents of the area have complained that the mass graves may cause health risks, even though Denmark authorities stated that the mink coming from the culling of mink farms pose no risk of spreading coronavirus nor result in contaminated groundwater.
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