Protesters blockade burial site after leak from lorry

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The Independent Online

Deliveries of carcasses to a burial site in Northumberland were suspended yesterday after protesters blockaded the entrance when lorries leaked fluid on to surrounding roads.

Deliveries of carcasses to a burial site in Northumberland were suspended yesterday after protesters blockaded the entrance when lorries leaked fluid on to surrounding roads.

The demonstrators barred eight lorries from entering the Widdrington site after fluid leaked out as vehicles waited outside. Officials from Maff are due to meet the protesters today, but a spokesman said their action had made the problem worse.

Yesterday, Maff said further deliveries had been suspended until the meeting with the protesters. A spokeswoman said the lorries were later allowed on. She said lorries were sealed before they went to Widdrington and the leak was "regrettable". Most of the fluid was disinfectant, she said.

"Once livestock is slaughtered, the messy process of decay begins. Clearly, this kind of cargo cannot be left standing around without increasing the risks to public health," she said. Protests from people living near to the former open-cast coalmine, which has been taking 400 carcasses a day, started more than a week ago.

There were other weekend protests at the Deep Moor landfill site near Torrington, Devon, where two people were arrested on Saturday when they tried to stop lorries delivering carcasses. Yesterday, the Mayor of Torrington, Bernard Wittram, inspected the site. He said the main concern was fluid leaking into water supplies. "I was up here yesterday and I saw a couple of lorries that seemed to be leaking effluent," he said.

About 600,000 private water supplies for isolated homes, particularly those in Cumbria and Devon, are most at risk from contamination. However, the Environment Agency said there was no risk to water supplies. Meanwhile, the carcasses of 1,500 sheep will be excavated from a burial site at Buttington Hall farm, near Welshpool, after blood seeped to the surface.

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