Laurie Simmons 757-925-1647


Jan. 6, 2015

New way to dispose of roadkill is environmentally friendly and cost-efficient

SUFFOLK, Va. – Workers in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Hampton Roads District remove an average of 20 dead animals every week from state-maintained highways. District employees now have a new tool to dispose of roadkill in an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient way.

This deer season, workers at VDOT’s Windsor Area Headquarters are using new micro-aeration composting facilities, where air is pumped out from PVC pipes at the bottom of a contained compost bin. The air creates a host environment where microbes can thrive, helping to break down animal carcasses into compost in as little as six weeks.  The compost then finishes maturing in a curing area for two months. 

To get started, workers cover the bottom of the bin with a layer of sawdust and then place the carcasses inside. They are covered with an equal mix of compost material and sawdust. As the carcasses start to decompose, the resulting liquids, called leachate, drain into slots at the bottom of the bin, collecting into an underground septic tank.

Workers recycle the microbe-rich liquids and spray it back onto the compost pile to help speed the decomposition. As more carcasses are added, additional layers of the compost-sawdust mix are placed on top, until the bin is filled.

The air, along with the continuous recycling of the microbe-rich liquid, helps temperatures in the compost pile reach up to 160 degrees. Higher temperatures translate into increased microbial activity, reduced composting time and fewer health hazards. Extra sawdust is always available to prevent unwanted odors. When the process is complete, the fresh compost is ready to be recycled and used at VDOT facilities and along Virginia roadways.

The Windsor Area Headquarters is one of four pilot test sites to start composting operations around Virginia. VDOT and its research division, the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR), have studied the performance of these types of facilities and other composting methods for several years to provide additional effective carcass-management options that comply with environmental regulations.  Composting also can help reduce some of the costs associated with transporting roadkill to offsite disposal sites.

Media site visits are available upon request. Please contact Laurie Simmons at 757-925-1647 for more information.




Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Jan. 6, 2015