Britain Probes Mad Cow
Storage Risks
Yahoo News

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 of contamination.
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 said.
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.