The German Die Welt online here reports that veterinary and medical experts are now saying that biogas plants may be the source of the lethal E. coli bacteria now running rampant through Germany. Although the disaster is nowhere the scale we saw in Bhopal, India, so far we have seen 18 dead and over 500 hospitalized. And needless to say, millions of Europeans are spooked.
Die Welt writes:
Ernst-Günther Hellwig, director of the Agricultural and Veterinary Academy in Horstmar, warns that the bacteria likely comes from new sources, saying the epidemic is a house-made German problem. ‘It is possible that the EHEC contagion comes from biogas plants,’ he said.”
Die Welt also reports that Hellwig has long been critical of biogas plants. Yet biogas industry proponents claim there is no connection between the current E. coli outbreak and biogas plant operations.
Hellwig is not alone in this belief. Die Welt also writes that laboratory director Bernd Schottdorf, founder of the 1500-employee private medical laboratory Schottdorf MVZ in Augsburg, the biggest in Europe, also thinks the connection is possible. “Spores survive the biogas plants’ prescribed hygienization of 70°C without a problem“, he says. “We don’t know if the hygienization is properly carried out at all biogas plants.” When waste product from biogas plants is spread on fields, they can contaminate the vegetables.
North Germany’s unusual dry weather and drought conditions, where it did not rain for weeks during the springtime, may have played a role in the spread of the deadly bacteria. Spores can stay on plants for a long time, as they don’t get washed off by rain. The biogas plant substrate, which is a by-product and is used as a fertilizer, probably didn’t get washed off the crops by any rain. Currently there are 6800 biogas plants in Germany and their inspection is disorganised.
North German drought and dirty irrigation and “unwashed” crops
Die Welt also writes that experts believe the unusually dry spring weather also may have led farmers to irrigate their crops using their liquid-manure spreaders. Farmers sometimes irrigate crops during dry spells using liquid manure spreaders, as this German manufacturer suggests here (scroll down to Liquid manure Distribution and irrigation systems).
The problem is that these liquid manure tanks are of course dirty and so contaminate the water, which in turn contaminates the crops. And then if it doesn’t rain for days or weeks, the crops stay contaminated through the time they are harvested.
Some points are clear: 1) The source of the E. coli is Northern Germany, which is home to many biogas plants and where agricultural manure fertilizer is widely used. The weather in the run-up to the start of the epidemic was very dry. Indeed, more detective work is needed to trace back the cause.
The online FOCUS magazine here also brings up the biogas plant issue, hat-tip DirkH.
Biogas plants are also suspected of causing DEADLY BOTULISM in North German Agriculture, read here. Looks like all the well-intentioned green growing is leading to a trail of death and illness instead of natural health and cleanliness.