16 March 2001
Burial for foot-and-mouth carcasses
by Isabel Davies
CARCASSES from thousands of farm animals killed in a bid to control foot-and-mouth disease could be buried rather than burned, it has emerged.
The government is in talks with the Environment Agency to establish whether it can dispose of more slaughtered animals by burying them.
Disposal to landfill is now likely in Cumbria where thousands of animals will be slaughtered in an attempt to stop foot-and-mouth spreading.
Agriculture minister Nick Brown is looking at burying the carcasses as an alternative to burning in order to speed up the disposal of livestock.
It is a radical change of policy. So far, burial has been used in very few instances because of the risk of contaminating the local water table.
But government officials are facing logistical problems and a growing headache in terms of how to dispose of so many animal carcasses.
The governments self-imposed target means that animals should be disposed off within 24 hours of slaughter. But there is already a four-day backlog.
Farmers fear that the delay has increased the risk of the disease spreading and are demanding that the gap between slaughter and disposal is reduced.