Good news for people who like news about grotesque agricultural calamities-waiting-to-happen! Lauren Etter of the Wall Street Journal has a groundbreaking story of how the state of Indiana is threatened by giant bubbles of livestock feces. Will someone think of the children, many of whom dream of seeing a floating balloon, made solely of poop?
It's all going down on the farm of Tony Goltstein of Winchester, Indiana. Goltstein runs a dairy farm, and like a lot of dairy farmers, he contains the biological leavings of his livestock in giant lagoons.
But then, in 2006, "small bubbles began poking up" in those lagoons. Those bubbles are now "the size of small houses." Those bubbles "are big enough to be seen in satellite photos." Those bubbles are something Etter really, really, really wants her readers to take pretty deadly seriously!
But Goltstein has got this crazy plan!
This month, Mr. Goltstein asked state regulators to let him pop the bubbles. He said he and his 19-year-old son would slice them open with a knife from a paddleboat.
Bruce Palin, assistant commissioner for the office of land quality at the state environmental agency, said officials were considering the idea. But, he added, "not knowing how much volume of gas is there and how much pressure is on it, we're concerned with just cutting a hole."
Last year, a hog farmer in Hayfield, Minn., was launched 40 feet into the air in an explosion caused by methane gas from a manure pit on his farm. He sustained burns and singed hair.
Goltstein told the WSJ: "I have no fear of popping them." In all honesty, Farmer Goltstein is sort of weirdly awesome.
My favorite part of this story is the featured comment from the Journal's "Community," which comes courtesy of Malcolm Acon Laws:
Why not use the methane gas to produce electricity and sell it to a utility? It would be carbon neutral and maybe even profitable. I think this is a lost opportunity for this farmer to generate some income.
Easy for you to say, guy who won't be actually attempting to harvest green energy from poop blimps!
Manure Raises New Stink [Wall Street Journal]