First Fipronil poultry manure processed by BMC Moerdijk

Since 7 August, the BMC power plant in Moerdijk has processed some 2,500 tonnes of poultry manure from poultry farms under lockdown because of the discovery of fipronil in their eggs. Experts agree that controlled incineration, for example in a power plant, is a safe and effective way to keep the fipronil contained in the poultry manure out of the environment.

Fortunately, the Netherlands has such a power station: BMC in Moerdijk, which specializes processing of poultry manure. BMC was founded by part of the Dutch poultry farmers, united in the Coöperatie DEP, ZLTO, and PZEM. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the NVWA and BMC Moerdijk have made agreements with Coöperatie DEP about the conditions under which the fipronil poultry manure may be processed in Moerdijk. This allows poultry farms under lockdown to dispose of their contaminated poultry manure as quickly as possible and in a responsible manner.

Fipronil poultry manure

Although BMC is specialized in processing poultry manure, the delivery of fipronil poultry manure is no easy task, says Wil van der Heijden, director of Coöperatie DEP: ‘This poultry manure is in addition to the poultry manure provided by our members with whom BMC has a purchase obligation, and we have contractual agreements with intermediaries. BMC’s processing capacity is not increasing, so we have to find alternatives for some of the poultry manure that is contracted to be processed with us.’

Minimum 55 per cent dry matter

BMC processes 1,250 tonnes of poultry manure a day in the summer months and therefore generating renewable electricity for over 70,000 households. This is only possible if the poultry manure meets certain requirements, according to operational director of BMC Moerdijk — Luc Westdorp — who says, ‘The poultry manure from the farms under lockdown must also contain at least 55% dry matter: after all, water does not burn. Additionally, it is necessary to have an optimal mix consisting of poultry manure from broiler chickens, laying hens, rearing chickens, and parent stock. To guarantee said optimal mix, BMC has daily contact with DEP about the poultry manure to be delivered. Before the poultry manure is processed, it is continuously mixed here. This consistent quality of the poultry manure is essential for a stable combustion process.’

Orgafert handles logistics

Orgafert, the subsidiary Coöperatie DEP in the logistics sector, is responsible for the supply of poultry manure from the affiliated poultry farmers. Now that BMC Moerdijk also receives fipronil poultry manure on a daily basis, each day represents a puzzle to ensure that supply and demand as well as quantity and quality remain in balance. It has been agreed with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and NVWA that the power plant will process a maximum of 350 tonnes of poultry manure from locked down farms every day. As BMC Moerdijk does not know in advance how much fipronil poultry manure will actually be delivered, nor what the quality and composition of this fipronil poultry manure will be, managing the logistics and storage of various flows of poultry manure requires significant extra efforts from both Orgafert and BMC.

No additional costs for members

About 25 members of the DEP cooperative are among the affected poultry farms, said Van der Heijden. ‘It is the primary task of BMC Moerdijk to process the poultry manure of our 500 members and therefore also of these 25 poultry farmers under lockdown. After all, we have entered into a contract with mutual obligations with our members. Orgafert and BMC Moerdijk take their planned tonnage into account and therefore no extra costs are charged for the processing of DEP member supplied poultry manure that contains fipronil. This once again does justice to their investment and belief in the safe processing of poultry manure . Think of it as a type of insurance that also only pays out to those who have paid premiums.’

DEP is happy to process the poultry manure of non-members. This means that we serve the entire Dutch poultry sector. For non-members, we ask for a surcharge of at least €25 which is not included in the transport costs. ‘First and foremost, let me say that I truly understand how unpleasant it is to hear that your business has been affected by such an infection. However, that surcharge is necessary because of the costs we have to incur for processing poultry manure containing fipronil. This includes the analysis of each truck, extra storage costs, costs for selling poultry lmanure tter from our non-blocked members elsewhere, extra labour required, and the extra risks we have to cover, such as the risk of lower energy production, and therefore reduced income for BMC because of a major change in the mix of the various types of poultry manure’, van der Heijden said.

Best solution

Hugo Bens, Chair of laying poultry LTO/NOP: ‘This is the best alternative, all the experts agree. Of course it hurts; especially for laying-poultry farmers who normally receive money for their dry poultry manure. Another option is to burn it as chemical waste in Moerdijk, but the costs are much higher in that case.’ It is not yet known how quickly affected farms will be free of fipronil and whether culling is actually effective. Wil van der Heijden says, ‘I hope that there will soon be light at the end of the tunnel for the poultry farmers. We are making every effort to ensure that the disposal and processing of poultry manure — without and with Fipronil — is done safely and effectively in these uncertain times. That is not easy, but with BMC the Netherlands has a unique and adequate solution.’