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Disease Control: Research

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when Government research facilities handling animal pathogens for which his Department is responsible have had their drainage systems (a) inspected and (b) risk assessed since 2001; and if he will make a statement. (159533)

I have been asked to reply.

The drainage systems of laboratories licensed by DEFRA to handle specified animal pathogens under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998 are not routinely inspected, nor is this a condition of a SAPO licence.

However, following the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), DEFRA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a safety alert to all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. The alert relates to issues arising from the independent reviews carried out by Professor Spratt and the HSE into potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright site. It requires all such laboratories to satisfy themselves that their facilities and procedures address all the issues identified by Professor Spratt and the HSE. DEFRA and the HSE will also undertake a programme of inspection at all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. SAPO licences for those laboratories have also been amended to make clear their responsibilities towards biosecurity.

In addition, we have commissioned a review of the regulatory framework for animal pathogens under Sir Bill Callaghan. This review will include a consideration of the appropriate enforcement standards for animal pathogens, including issues such as drainage.