- LONDON, Aug 22 - Britain's
Environment Agency is investigating a dump where thousands of tonnes of
cow carcasses are stored after reports that potentially lethal waste infected
with mad cow disease could leak out, officials said on Sunday.
- A spokesman for the environmental watchdog said visitors
to the site in Lincolnshire in east England had seen "pigeons or mice"
inside the dump, which is supposed to be airtight to prevent the threat
- The Observer newspaper reported the visitors also saw
gaps in the walls of the buildings, where 50,000 tonnes of cattle carcasses
are kept in former aircraft hangars.
- The dumps must be sealed to prevent contaminated dust
escaping and being ingested by humans who could then risk contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob
Disease (CJD), the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
- The Environment Agency has written to the company which
runs the site asking for an explanation and plans to inspect it in the
next couple of days, the spokesman said.
- "That will inform what action we take," he
- The Ministry of Agriculture said it did not believe the
case threatened public health. "As far as we are aware there is no
public health risk involved," a spokesman told Reuters.
- He said the cattle were slaughtered because they were
over two and a half years old -- as part of a programme to cull cattle
which could be potentially contaminated -- not because they had been found
to be infected with BSE.
- "Some of them will come from herds where BSE has
been identified. But there is no question that all of them are infected
with BSE," he said.
- British beef was banned globally in 1996 over fears of
mad cow disease. The 15-nation European Union authorised exports to resume
from August 1.
- The cattle carcasses are being stored because only one
furnace in Britain is capable of burning them at the required temperature
of 1,000 degrees Centigrade.
- The furnace can only cope with 15,000 of the 80,000 tonnes
of cattle remains that are created each year, meaning the piles of carcasses
grows by 65,000 a year, the paper said.