- Thousands of tons of animal remains left over from the
war against BSE are still being stored at two sites in the West, it was
- The Government agency responsible for disposal admits
it will be another two years before it is finally cleared.
- Two stores containing rendereddown cattle carcasses are
still being maintained at Woodbury Salterton and Wrangaton, both near Exeter,
while incinerator operators struggle to reduce stockpiles.
- They are some of the remains of more than 1.3million
older animals compulsorily slaughtered to reduce the threat of BSE contaminated
meat reaching the food chain to an immeasurably-small risk.
- All cattle over 30 months have been killed and burned
since the true extent of the dangers emerged in March 1996.
- The slaughtering is still going on. But processors have
never caught up with the huge backlog of animals that built up when the
ban came into effect.
- There are currently 16 BSE waste dumps in operation across
the country, and the amount of the material in store has actually increased
- But at the current rate of progress it will take another
two years and £120m to clear them.
- Contractor Mike Hocking, who is renting out four storage
sheds in Wrangaton, says when he first signed up to a Ministry contract
in 1996 he expected them to be in use for just two years. "But the
Ministry have just rented out the space for another two years, " he
- The remains he stores are believed to have come from
Thomas's, an Exeterbased rendering company which has been dealing with
the BSE slaughter programme almost from the outset.
- The process involves converting the carcasses into powder,
which then has to be burned. But incinerator capacity is limited and was
further reduced by the huge numbers of animals being disposed of during
foot-and-mouth last year.
- In addition, experts, such as microbiologist Professor
Eric Lacey of Leeds university, claim open-air incineration is still unsafe
because it carries the risk of infection finding its way back into the
- "The only safe way to burn the waste is underground,
" he said Britain's actual BSE cases will tip into the hundreds this
year as the earlier controls take effect and the disease burns out. For
the first time there are likely to be more cases in France.
- Defra's Rural Payments Agency maintains that its disposal
programme is on course.