17 April 2001
Safety fears plague disposal sites
By FWi staff
GOVERNMENT officials in Wales and northern England have been forced to revise disposal plans for animals slaughtered under foot-and-mouth controls.
In Wales, officials suspended the disposal of carcasses at a military range in south Powys following concerns about the pollution risk.
A full Environment Agency investigation is under way amid fears that bodily fluids from carcasses have reached watercourses near the Eppynt military range.
The giant pits that will take up to 180,000 carcasses of animals slaughtered to control foot-and-mouth are being lined to contain the pollution risk.
But this has not satisfied locals, who claim the geology of the site makes it unsuitable for safe carcass disposal.
Protesters are also opposed to lorries carrying slaughtered animals from infected areas passing through their clean area.
Glyn Powell, deputy president of the Farmers Union of Wales, who lives nearby, said locals remain implacably opposed to this.
With disposals on hold, the pre-emptive cull of stock on units next to infected farms in Powys and Monmouthshire has come to a halt.
Huw Lewis, the Welsh Assemblys deputy education minister, has resigned in protest against the licensing of a disposal site in his constituency.
He said he was not prepared to let the assembly ride roughshod over objections to the use of the Trecatti landfill site.
His resignation letter complained about lack of consultation, and made it clear that he was also on the side of those opposing the use of the Eppynt site.
Meanwhile, officials in County Durham have backed down from plans to use a local site to incinerate animals slaughtered during the crisis.
A spokesman for the Newcastle Disease Emergency Control Centre said the Ministry of Agriculture would now only use the Tow Law site for carcass burial.
Control centre director Bob Dobbie said the Ministry had now decided the site was too close to a local school to be used as a funeral pyre.
“We have decided that we shall use it as a burial site only,” he said.
But Dr Dobbie warned that more sites would still be needed.
“Currently we only have one mass burial site available in the north-east, and that is at Widdrington in Northumberland.”
“There is an urgent need for a similar facility in the County Durham area as we look to combat the spread of foot-and-mouth.”