Foot-and-Mouth Leaves Britain With Serious Pollution Problem

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Plans were abandoned to burn 40,000 sheep at an airfield in Anglesey as protesting residents prevented the passage of trucks carrying the carcasses. Their fears were confirmed when blood from 4,000 carcasses already dumped formed a half-mile (one-kilometer) slick in a stream close by.

The North Cumbrian Health Authority has suspended further burnings until the risks have been assessed. Two pyres may have to go ahead as the health risk from rotting carcasses outweighs air pollution and other concerns. The Department of Health says that an assessment of the public health implications of the pyres will be released "imminently."

Rivers Endangered

In Wales, 15,000 sheep buried on a site used for incinerating cattle infected with the much more serious BSE, or mad cow disease, will have to be dug up and burnt, as a test borehole found blood and body fluids 100 yards (100 meters) from the site. This site endangers two of the cleanest rivers in Europe, the Usk and the Towy, notable for trout and salmon fishing.

Complicating the massive clean-up operations in Britain is growing pressure to slaughter isolated animals to prevent them from starving.

Due to restrictions on movements of livestock to contain the risk of infection, animals have been trapped in fields with no food. Many of them have given birth. Prohibited in terms of the same regulations from approaching their stock to render assistance, farmers have requested the slaughter of their animals out of compassion.

Janet Kipling, representative in Devon for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, urged officals to consider easing restrictions as "there are lambs dying in the mud and lambs staggering around virtually unable to stand up. It is just not acceptable."

Government officials, embattled by the enormity of the problems caused by the foot-and-mouth epidemic, are facing mounting anger by farmers and animal rights protesters opposed to further mass slaughters.

Last weekend celebrities, farmers, and animal welfare protestors joined forces to condemn the culling of healthy livestock. The pressure group Compassion in World Farming aims to force Maff to abandon culling in favor of vaccination. Actress Joanna Lumley told a cheering crowd: "The truth is, vaccination is the only way out of this hideous crisis."

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