Dáil Éireann - Volume 527 - 05 December, 2000

Written Answers. - Disposal of Animals.

80. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the steps which have been taken to dispose of carcasses of BSE suspect animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28460/00]

88. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the steps he is taking to ensure that the disposal of BSE-suspected animals does not pose an environmental threat, especially to water supplies; if he considers the current method of burial of such animals to be environmentally satisfactory; if, in view of serious public concerns in relation to the reported burial of an animal in County Galway close to the source of a number of group water systems, he will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a safety audit of all such burial sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24738/00]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 88 together.

As has already been well publicised, my Department has not been burying animals suspected of having BSE for a number of weeks past. As an interim measure, pending a resolution to the issue of disposal and ultimate destruction of BSE suspect animals, I recently announced a decision to discontinue the practice of burying BSE animals, in favour of holding them in cold storage.

In the meantime, my Department continues to actively pursue a number of specific options to resolve the substantive disposal-destruction issue. Such options will require the agreement of others, including the Environmental Protection Agency. I have made no secret of the fact that my favoured option for the disposal of these animals is incineration. I believe that there is a strong level of cross party consensus at national level in relation to the need for incineration facili[622] ties and I hope that this is reflected when these matters fall for decision at local level.

Finally, burials which have already taken place involved individual BSE suspect animals buried under veterinary supervision and subject to a number of strict conditions. However, I have already indicated that in cases where local authorities, who have statutory responsibility for water quality, have specific concerns about the location of buried animals, my Department will provide any available information to facilitate an assessment of any risk to the local environment, and particularly to local water courses.