BSE pits should not be dug up



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AGRICULTURE Minister Phil Gawne has ruled out testing the area around BSE pits to check whether they still pose a health risk.

The call came in Tynwald from Peter Karran (Lib Van, Onchan) who suggested tests be carried out on a 400-metre radius around domestic properties built over sites where BSE-infected cattle had been buried.

Mr Gawne said his department had commissioned an independent report in 1999 after identifying a potential issue with buried carcases.

The report concluded that the best practice was for the burial to remain in place with the housing development designed so the area is covered by permanent drained hardstanding.

It advised against excavation of the carcasses as this could potentially risk exposure for humans.

Mr Gawne told Tynwald: ‘I think if we did what member is suggesting, then there would be a health risk. However, if we leave the animals where they had been buried several decades ago, then there is no health risk.

‘Indeed, the advice that I have been given is that if you start digging these sites up, that is when you are going to start introducing the potential of risk because the contaminant is associated with or attaches to the soil.

‘There is a very realistic chance you would have to eat all the soil associated with the carcasses, and even then your risk of actually contracting anything is fairly slim.

‘So I think far better leaving the stuff under the ground and not disturbing it. That is certainly the very strong scientific advice that has been given to me and I am more than happy to follow that advice.’

Mr Gawne said there was absolutely no evidence at all that there is any risk to humans from animals that have been buried for years.

David Callister MLC asked the location of sites designated for future outbreaks. Mr Gawne replied the preferred site was Jurby airfield.

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