A farmer and 16 cattle have died after a “deadly dome of air” formed in a Wisconsin farm’s manure holding tank.
According to WAOW, a 29-year-old farmer named Michael Biadasz, from Amherst, Wisconsin, died of gas poisoning on his family’s farm after being overcome by fumes of either methane or sulfur oxide. Initially, 13 of the farm’s cattle died as well, but three more followed, bringing the total to 16 cattle.
The 29-year-old’s father, Bob Biadasz, co-owner of Biadasz Farms, said that the tragedy was the result of a “perfect storm” of unusual and unexpected weather conditions. When the tank was prepped to be pumped, warm upper air temperatures trapped the gases in a “deadly dome of air,” which then poisoned Michael and the cattle.
Biadasz was found dead when other workers arrived to begin hauling manure away from the tank.
The coroner says that an investigation is underway in order to determine what caused Biadasz’s death. He says that Biadasz had performed the task of emptying the tank hundreds of times prior to the incident.
“I know of 13 dead cows,” Portage County Coroner Scott Rifleman told WAOW, prior to the other three cows dying “There were others that were sick. I am unsure if any more died. The family is devastated, absolutely devastated.”
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The Biadasz family honored Michael by parking a line of tractors and machinery along the road that passes the farm. Among the vehicles parked are a blue tractor, several red trucks, and Michael’s black pickup truck.
Rifleman told WSAW that gas poisoning deaths typically occur in closed areas, making the incident even more surprising. The coroner said that atmospheric pressure prevented the gases from dissipating.
“As if there isn’t already enough danger in the lives of farmers, this family had to suffer this freak accident,” one Facebook user commented on the story, according to All That’s News. “So sad.”
Following the tragic accident, many are calling for tougher regulations to be placed on manure holding tanks in order to prevent a similar incident in the future. According to All That’s News, The National Agriculture Safety Database says that there should be proper ventilation where animals are store and that warning signs must be posted nearby.
“In addition to adhering to proper construction and maintenance procedures for liquid manure storage facilities, owners should be encouraged to follow a few precautionary measures to protect both workers and livestock from harmful manure gases,” the NASD writes.