Date: Mon, Jun 30, 1997

By Jo Butler, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, PA News

The Government is considering taking over a disused power station in a drastic bid to cope with thousands of tonnes of waste from animals slaughtered in the BSE eradication cull. Agriculture Minister of State Jeff Rooker said the Government would not be "ripped off" by power station operators and was prepared to take on the job of incinerating the waste itself if they could not come to an alternative arrangement.

Some 225,000 tonnes of meat and bonemeal and 115,000 tonnes of tallow have stockpiled since the introduction of the compulsory slaughter of cattle over 30 months old. The waste is being kept in storage at vast expense amid rows over how to dispose of it safely.

Last week the Environment Agency declared the remains could safely be burnt at temperatures of 1,450C to produce electricity. Mr Rooker, speaking at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, said: "We are responsible for dealing with this and we are going to tackle it. We are not going to allow the Ministry to be ripped off in the process which is why if need be we will do it ourselves."

It is understood power station operators have demanded indemnities against the possibility of anyone contracting the human form of mad cow disease, Creutzfeld Jacob Disease, before agreeing to handle the waste.

Mr Rooker refused to speculate on possible power stations which could be acquired by the Government but it would be either one or several coal-fired stations in either a rural or urban area. He also refused to put a time-scale on the development but warned any incineration programme would take years to complete. The cost of storing the waste was a heavy burden for the Government.

Plans to incinerate the waste have already met fierce opposition from councils and local residents concerned about safety. Mr Rooker insisted the ash left over from the burning would be safe but would nevertheless be disposed of in landfill sites.

Copyright 1997 PA News. Copying, storing, redistribution, retransmission, publication, transfer or commerical exploitation of this information is expressly forbidden.

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