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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Foot-and-mouth: Mass burial sites

Plans for a number of foot-and-mouth mass burial sites are being drawn up by the army and advisors from the Ministry of Agriculture.

A Maff spokesman said any new sites around the country would be on Ministry of Defence land. He said the suitability of the locations would be determined in conjunction with the Environment Agency.

"In order to get on top of the epidemic it is not practicable to incinerate all the livestock and there is an urgent search now for the most suitable sites," he said.

Meanwhile, BBC News Online looks at some of the existing disposal sites around the country.

1. Great Orton airfield, Cumbria was the first mass burial site. It is capable of holding up to 500,000 carcasses. The army, under the command of Brigadier Alex Birtwistle, prepared the huge burial trenches and the burials began on 26 March.

Brigadier Birtwistle described his job as "an apocalyptic task".

In the first week slaughtermen and vets, working in teams of four from dawn until dusk, managed to dispose of 120,000 sheep.

2. Birkshaw Forest is located five miles south of Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway. This site was prepared by the 52nd Lowland Regiment and is capable of holding up to 250,000 slaughtered animals.

3. Epynt military range, near Sennybridge in Powys, mid Wales can hold up to 180,000 carcasses. Burials began on 5 April. Extra members of the armed forces were drafted in to help speed up the operation including a team of 80 Royal Navy sailors from HMS Sultan and a further 100 soldiers from the Household Cavalry.

Local people were angered by the decision to use Epynt. Powys County Council voted to urge Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones to call off the "deplorable" mass burial.

This area was also the site of a serious accident when a police van was crushed by a bulldozer. A police officer had to be cut free from the wreckage and was taken to hospital. A man was later charged with attempted murder and other offences.

4. Penhesgyn landfill site, located near Menai Bridge on the island of Anglesey, has the capacity for 10,000 carcasses. About 40,000 sheep in total are earmarked for culling on Anglesey - a proportion of the remaining carcasses may be buried at other sites on the island.

5. Throckmorton is a 290-acre disused Ministry of Defence airfield near Pershore in Worcestershire. The local authority, Wychavon District Council, complained about the burial site and said that the decision had been taken out its hands by Maff.

6. Widdrington in Northumberland is a former opencast quarry and has capacity for 200,000 sheep carcasses.

The greenfield site is located about a mile south-west of Widdrington, near Ashington, and is being leased to the Maff by owner RJB Mining. The site is under the command of Lieutenant Col Mike Redmond, 39th Regiment Royal Artillery.

7. Chapman's Well landfill site - operated by Durham Waste Management - is located between Annfield Plain and Quaking Sisters in County Durham. It has a capacity for 150,000 carcasses.

But a local row developed after Maff overruled opposition from nearby residents and the local council who said there were other sites more suitable.

A decision was subsequently taken to close the site after it had been partly filled with about 40,000 carcasses. There are no plans to exhume the carcasses already buried.

8. Meeth, near Okehampton in Devon has been selected by Maff as a new site for mass burial. The ministry bought five fields on the edge of a clay quarry from the Meeth Clay Works company. It will have a capacity for about 400,000 animal carcasses.

The carcasses will be buried in 18 large clay barrows which will go down to a depth of one metre and will rise two-metres high.

The first animal carcasses will arrive in about a week. The Army may set up a makeshift slaughter yard at the site so animals will be brought in alive and then killed and buried.

A meeting about the site was held in nearby Petrockstowe. Local residents raised fears about the possibility of pollution and foul smells from the site.

9. Tow Law, County Durham is the site of an embarrassing mistake. About 900 sheep carcasses were buried at this former gravel pit against the advice of the Environment Agency. The site was too close to an underground spring and so the bodies had to be exhumed and reburied 40 miles north at the Widdrington site.

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