Scientists reviewing the waste disposal practices at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames say they are comfortable with procedures currently in place. The NADC?s disposal practices came under scrutiny in May when two employees accused the center of improperly treating waste from animals carrying scrapie and Chronic Wasting Disease.
But Doctor Robert Rohwer with the V-A Medical Center in Baltimore says the complaint stems from a misunderstanding, because the NADC uses different procedures than the National Veterinary Services lab, which is on the same campus.
Rohwer says the operations were “similarly secure” on both sides of the facility even though they were different. On the NADC side, they were not aware of the fact that all liquid waste goes to what Rohwer called a “very impressive” pre-treatment plant that heats the material to 120 degrees for half an hour before it’s discharged to the city’s sanitary sewer system.
Rohwer says there should be better communication across the whole campus so this kind of misunderstanding won’t arise in the future. As far as past practices, he says investigators were unanimous in their comfort with them. Ames residents were alarmed by the whistle-blowers’ reports because waste from the animal labs is disposed of directly into the city’s sewer system. Some animals tested there have diseases including those that cause deterioration of the brain in other animals the way Mad Cow affects cattle.