Written Answers. - Bovine Disease Controls.

Tom Hayes

Question:

70 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason residents and local representatives in a rural region of the border between north and south Tipperary were not told that 570 BSE infected animal carcasses were being stored in a warehouse near their homes; if he will provide an assurance that there is no threat to people's health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21952/02]

BSE positive material is handled to the highest standards in accordance with the appropriate legislation and the recommendations of the EU Scientific Committee.

The appropriate legislation is EU veterinary legislation under which the only approved means of disposal of such material are burial or incineration. My Department discontinued the practice of burial of BSE carcases in late 2000 and in the absence of any suitable incineration facility within the State, it has been necessary to make interim storage arrangements, pending a resolution of the problem of ultimate disposal of the carcases. Since that time, such carcases have been frozen and stored in a secure, dedicated cold store, owned by the Department and located in County Tipperary. The decision to discontinue burial and to put the carcases of BSE animals in cold storage was made against a background of considerable media and parliamentary attention in late 2000 and is a matter of public record.

When my Department purchased the cold store in 2000, officials informally advised the relevant local authority and landowners immediately adjacent to the facility of the change of ownership and the proposed storage arrangements.

My Department will continue to manage all relevant aspects of the BSE issue in a manner which protects public health, animal health and the environment, in conjunction as necessary with other statutory bodies. In this regard, Ireland's handling of all aspects of BSE is subject to ongoing scrutiny from various perspectives by independent bodies such as the EU's Food and Veterinary Office, the Food and Safety Authority of Ireland and others and has been recognised time and again as comprehensive, rigorous and responsible.