Fears over BSE floodwater

9 November 2000

Fears over ‘BSE floodwater’

By FWi staff

VILLAGERS fear BSE-infected waste may have poured into their homes with floodwater, reports the Daily Express.

Residents of Sandhurst, Gloucestershire, had demanded the closure of a water-processing plant before the floods which have devastated tracts of the country,

Calls came after reports that drums of material from animals which died of BSE were allegedly being illegally stored there.

Homes were evacuated there last week after an explosion at the plant, leading to fears that waste could have escaped in floodwater.

In The Times, Dr Thomas Stuttaford warns that floodwater contaminated with animal waste, or the contents of overflowing sewers, could threaten public health.

Meanwhile, a leading figure at the Environment Agency has blamed changing farming practices for up to a fifth of current flooding.

Geoff Mance, agency director of water management, said the trend towards winter cereals meant rainwater now drained off fields faster than 20 years ago.

In the past, ploughed fields were left bare through the winter so water gathered, filling furrows and going into aquifers, he told New Scientist magazine.

But drilling winter cereals resulted in a huge acceleration in rainwater flow into rivers after storms, said Mr Mance.

He claimed that money allocated to flood defences would be better spent on finding way to cut run-off from fields.

A National Farmers Union spokesman told the Daily Telegraph that floods occurred so early that many farmers had not sown winter crops.

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