Animal disease outbreak: prevent pollution from cleaning and disinfection

How to clean and disinfect after an animal disease outbreak (eg foot and mouth, salmonella) and store and dispose of the washwater.

Cleaning and disinfecting (also known as ‘cleansing and disinfecting’) after an outbreak of animal disease produces more washwater, with higher concentrations of disinfectant than routine cleaning.

This guidance helps you:

  • follow pollution prevention rules when you clean and disinfect
  • reduce the cost of disinfectant washwater storage and disposal

Before you clean and disinfect

Fill in the disposal of disinfectant washwater form.

The Environment Agency will assess your disposal method, and tell you if you need an environmental permit to dispose of washwater on land (known as landspreading).

If you clean and disinfect a free-range poultry farm, move poultry sheds to an area where you can contain the washwater where possible.

How to clean and disinfect

If a disease is confirmed on your holding, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will tell you how to clean and disinfect to control the spread of disease.

You must use a disinfectant approved by Defra for the disease.

You could get an unlimited fine if you allow washwater or disinfectant to enter groundwater or surface water, eg ditches, rivers, coastal waters.

Dispose of washwater

Use your existing waste disposal systems where possible. If you can’t, you should use the following methods.

Drain to a foul sewer (best option)

You must get approval from your waste water service supplier before you add disinfectant washwater to a foul sewer.

Use a registered waste carrier (option 2)

You mustn’t allow waste carriers to dispose of your waste illegally.

You must meet the waste duty of care requirements.

If you don’t meet your duty of care, you could get an unlimited fine.

Dispose on land (option 3)

If you carry out landspreading, you must dispose of washwater at least:

  • 10 metres from rivers, streams and field ditches
  • 30m from streams with nature conservation status
  • 50m from boreholes, wells and springs used for drinking water or food production
  • 250m from solution features, eg sinkholes, swallow holes, swallets

You must have an environmental permit to carry out landspreading, unless the Environment Agency says you don’t need one.

Permit applications take up to 20 working days and you must pay an application fee.

Store washwater

If you need to store disinfectant washwater before you dispose of it, use your existing dirty water or effluent management storage systems where possible.

If you clean and disinfect areas that aren’t connected to your storage system, you can:

Slurry stores

You should avoid using a slurry store.

If you add disinfectant washwater to a slurry store, you must apply for an environmental permit to land spread the whole contents of the store.

Check how much storage you need

You’ll produce more washwater than from routine cleaning because of the following:

  • biosecurity point cleaning
  • vehicle and equipment washing during culling
  • APHA may carry out preliminary cleaning and disinfection

To calculate how much washwater storage you need, consider:

  • the water flow rate of the pressure washer you use
  • the average rainfall for your area that falls into open stores, or onto hard surfaced areas that drain into stores

Build temporary storage

You must agree the location and construction of temporary washwater storage systems with the Environment Agency before you build them.

If you build a temporary lagoon, you must meet the following rules for storing silage, slurry and agricultural fuel oil (known as SSAFO):

  • it must be 10m from watercourses or ditches
  • it must be 50m from wells, springs or boreholes used for drinking water or food production
  • the base must be above the water table
  • you must keep a gap of at least 750 millimetres between the surface of the lagoon’s content and the top of the lagoon wall
  • you must use a liner, unless there’s at least 1m of clay subsoil below the base
  • liners can be made from butyl rubber or plastic (PVC or high or low density polyethylene)
  • you mustn’t use a low grade liner in a high risk groundwater area

Using temporary storage

Avoid filling earth bank stores above ground level.

You mustn’t use temporary washwater storage for more than 12 months.

Published 19 July 2016