On Wednesday at 1.00pm Labour MP Leo Brincat will be testifying in front of the Board of Inquiry set up to look into the use of the Marsa incinerator to get rid of animal remains imported from North Africa.
On 2 June 2012 Brincat had called for a Board of Inquiry to be set up immediately to carry out an independent investigation into the allegations and also to involve the police. So far the police have not been asked to investigate the case.
Government took four days to do what Brincat asked for and it was only on 6 June 2012 that the Board of Inquiry was set up. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) also took three days to say that it had carried out an internal inquiry into the case.
On 2 June 2012 Brincat called for an independent inquiry on whether Wasteserv is burning infected animal remains at the Marsa incinerator. He said these animal remains had been possibly infected by the foot and mouth disease and were coming from a North African country.
Shortly after Brincat's statement, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority said that it "can confirm that it was alerted to this issue a few days ago. The Authority immediately started to investigate the case and carried out a site inspection. The Authority's investigations are currently ongoing and the public will be kept informed with the final outcome."
Foot-and-mouth disease is considered a severe plague for animal farming and the animals at risk include cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. It is highly infectious and can be spread by infected animals, through contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing or feed, and by domestic and wild predators. Its containment demands considerable efforts in vaccination, strict monitoring, trade restrictions and quarantines, and occasionally the elimination of millions of animals.
Earlier on this year the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that the foot and mouth disease outbreaks in North African countries originated in the Sahel region, the sub-Saharan region bordering the southern Sahara desert. FAO said: “Widespread drought in this area is believed to be contributing to the uncontrolled movement of livestock as people try to sell stock as soon as possible or reach better pasture, but conflict and the high meat prices in certain areas are also driving this dissemination.