21 November 1997

No fall in sheep dip pollution

ENVIRONMENT Agency officials are to step up the campaign to prevent river pollution caused by synthetic pyrethroid (SP) sheep dips, after admitting their efforts in the summer had failed.

David Griffiths, EA spokes-man, told the National Sheep Associations annual sheep health and welfare conference yesterday (Thurs) that early indications this year, after widespread monitoring, had shown no fall in quantities of both SP and organophosphate dips detected in rivers.

He said that while most sheep farmers were responsible and followed good practice, there was a significant minority that did not.

"Poor operation of the dip bath and holding pens, together with poor disposal of the spent dip, has led to water pollution. And, with the increased toxicity of the new generation of sheep dipping compounds, procedures must be improved if pollution is to be avoided."

Latest figures from the north-west show that more than 62 miles of river have been affected by sheep dip pollution this year, with fish, insect larvae and other aquatic life poisoned.

The EA campaign will take on more significance in the light of the EU Commissions demand that government implements the groundwater directive.

That will force farmers dipping sheep to apply for an authorisation to dispose of the dip. Mr Griffiths said the agency would not sanction any applications for disposal through soakaways because they threatened to increase pollution.

&#8226 One in 10 farmers exposed to OPs over a 10-year period developed neuro-psychiatric disorders, according to a random postal survey of 400 farmers in Devon and Cornwall by consultant psychiatrist Robert Davies.

Tony McDougal