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Ferris raises concerns on source of oil at centre of pork contamination

17 December, 2008 - by Martin Ferris TD

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has raised concerns in the Dáil at reports that oil from electrical transformers, due to be exported and destroyed, may have been resold and used to heat animal feed leading to the pork contamination and removal of Irish pork products from shelves.

Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ferris said, "Sean McConnell's piece in the Irish Times today addresses some of the issues related to the contaminated oil thought to have contained the dioxin that was found in pork.

"For example he quoted some of those involved in the investigation to the effect that the oil, believed to have come from electricity transformers, is only permitted to be exported by companies issued with a special licence. And the only reason that the waste oil concerned, from the electricity transformers and which contains the high levels of PCBs, is passed to those companies is to be exported and destroyed under special conditions. A process that involves incineration at temperatures greater than 1,200 degrees and which is not carried out in this country.

"However, an even more disturbing aspect of this situation is that it has been claimed by some people involved in the general sector that one of those licensed to export the oil in question has been supplying the plant where the contamination originated with oil collected from the electricity transformers. So instead of the oil in question being exported to be destroyed as detailed above, it was being used in the processing plant.

"That, if true, is a serious claim and one that needs to be thoroughly investigated. Presumably it may be one of the aspects of the case that is being examined at the moment by the Gardai. If it was the case that the oil was being sold in this manner it raises several questions regarding the integrity of the company involved. Is it the case that they are being paid twice for this? Once to collect it from the ESB transformers to be supposedly exported for destruction, and again when they in fact sell it on to the processing plant?

"So while the actual danger to human health in this instance may have been minimal a huge question surely hangs over the supplier in question and their entitlement to hold a license for the purpose of dealing with this oil. That is something which I hope is thoroughly investigated and dealt with if found to be true.

"It is particularly important in relation to the recovery of the pig meat sector from the effects of the crisis, and for the overall image and health of the food production industry, that every company involved in any aspect that directly relates to the processing of food is understood to be operating in full compliance with the relevant regulations and is in general worthy of trust." ENDS

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