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Laboratories: Disease Control

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 22 and 23 October 2007 and the discussions on the animal health strategy (1) what steps he is taking to ensure improvements in biosecurity in laboratories; and if he will make a statement; (170883)

(2) whether he discussed with his European counterparts biosecurity at the Pirbright site; and if he will make a statement.

We are keeping in close contact with the European Commission on these issues.

Stringent new conditions have been applied to work undertaken on the Pirbright site, and a safety alert was issued to all similar laboratories immediately following the August outbreak. A follow-up round of inspections has been taking place jointly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Additionally, we accepted all recommendations that apply to the Government contained in the HSE and Spratt reports. These measures will ensure the highest level of biosecurity both at Pirbright and at all other laboratories working with specified animal pathogens.

Following the incident announced by DEFRA on 22 November, Merial’s Specified Animal Pathogens Order licence was suspended. The incident was contained in the enclosed, re-lined drainage system, and there was no release of virus to the environment. An inspection team has produced a full report for the acting chief veterinary officer.