IFA raises concerns over cattle deaths in Silvermines from lead poisoning

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IFA raises concerns over cattle deaths in Silvermines from lead poisoning

Tipperary IFA and local councillors have raised concerns over the death of two cows in Silvermines from lead poisoning.

The cattle died in February and follow up tests showed they had died from lead.

Subsequently, 20 dairy farmers had their bulk milk tanks examined and two had their milk supply to their creamery halted. One has since been given the all clear while the other is 75 per cent clear. It is understood that any farmer whose herd tested for lead would have been unaware of high or excessive lead reading until the two cattle died.

The issue was raised a meeting of Nenagh Municipal District Council last Thursday which was attended by Tipperary IFA members, along with the ICMSA and the ICA.

IFA North Tipperary chair Tim Cullinan said the main source of the lead would appear to come from a river leading from Silvermines into the Kilmastulla River.

“This river needs attention. It needs to be cleaned at least once a year,” he said.

Mr Cullinan was backed by IFA North Tipperary Rural Development Committee chairman William Malone, who said: “Clearing that river is important. The flooding of 2015 seems to be the problem.”

Farmer and councillor Ger Darcy said that a lot of rivers were being left untouched because of interference by environmental agencies and “we usually end up with a bigger problem thatn they tried to prevent”.

He said that drainage committees were given a small budget by the council to clear rivers with thet help of council staff.

“What they bring is local knowledge that can help alleviate flooding,” he said.

Cllr John Carroll claimed that it had been agreed under the inter-agency set up to monitor the Silvermines following problems in the 1990s, but that such monitoring had not taken place.

Meanwhile, the inter-agency investigation, which is being led by the Department of Agriculture, with representatives from Tipperary County Council, the EPA, the HSE, Teagasc, and Food Safety Authority of Ireland, has yet to meet.

The inter-agency meeting will look at possible sources for the lead, and review the recommendations of a previous report and to see if anything further needs to be done. This may involve looking at forage sources following heavy rain or flooding in the area.

Initially it had been thought that the cattle may have accessed lead through illegal dumping at a nearby site, but Tipperary County Council has ruled this out.

The issue was raised at the April meeting of Tipperary County Council when director of environmental services Sean Keating reminded councillors that there had been a lead poisoning problem at Silvermines for centuries because of its history of mining.