Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 22 May, 2003

Written Answers. - Disposal of Animal Carcases.

  79. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his views on the recent EU approval of alkaline hydrolysis for the disposal of BSE-infected material. [14057/03]

  Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Alkaline hydrolysis has not been approved yet by the EU Commission as a safe method of disposal of BSE-positive material. However, its suitability for the disposal of various [736]categories of animal by-products has been assessed by the EU's Scientific Steering Committee which published an opinion on the matter on following its meeting on 10 and 11 April 2003.

  While the opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee on category 2 and category 3 animal waste is clear, its opinion on the suitability of alkaline hydrolysis for the disposal of BSE-positive material is less certain. Indeed it is possible that the EU Commission would require BSE-positive material treated with alkaline hydrolysis to be incinerated or buried, disposal solutions which are already permitted under EU law for rendered BSE-positive material.

  The matter will be discussed at Commission working group level shortly and officials from my Department will participate in these discussions. I have indicated on a number of occasions that I am keeping an open mind on possible methods for the disposal of BSE-positive material.

  However, any method proposed must in the first instance be approved by the EU Commission, must meet Irish environmental and waste disposal standards and must be reasonably practicable. I will continue to follow ongoing debate at EU level on alkaline hydrolysis with interest, and I can assure the Deputy that I will give it or any other practical solution for the disposal of BSE-positive material due consideration as soon as all of the necessary environmental and other approvals are obtained. It goes without saying that I am anxious to have as many approved disposal options as possible.