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Health Alert at Chilean Pig Plant

28 May 2012, at 8:08am

CHILE - Chilean Health Minister, Jaime Mañlich, has stepped in to help the residents of Freirina because of deficiencies at the Agrosuper pig processing plant in the area, where pigs have been dying and the health of the community has been put at risk.

The Secretary of State ordered the temporary closure of the company, located in the Atacama region, until measures are taken to ensure adequate protection of the health of people.

The health minister hopes the action will also end the problems of the smell caused by the plant.

This announcement followed a meeting held Mañlich Minister, Minister of Environment, Maria Ignacia Benitez and the Deputy Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla with a group of people affected by the problem.

The authorities coordinated their action to address the mconcerns of the peole of the town who had complained about the potential health hazard and smells at the plant.

"We have a situation that has lasted for several months of bad odors emanating from some major deficiencies in the plant in the management of biowaste. This had been observed by the Health Authority, which had issued fines on several occasions.

On Friday, an inspection was made at the factory and found that the company had not taken the actions they had promised," the authority said.

The government decree has meant the closure of the plant while the health status of the facilities are assessed and so the authorities can provide a mechanism to begin to feed more than 500,000 pigs in that have not received food or water in recent days.

This was carried out by a working group comprising representatives of the Health Seremi Atacama, SAG and community members, who discussed the most effective measures to take.

The Minister Mañlich went to Agrosuper plant in Freirina, where he found that it was "completely abandoned, without workers, without supervision and pigs left to their fate".

He said is was "an extraordinarily grave situation as there is escape of waste, pig slurry can contaminate water in the valley, presenting a great danger to the population".

He also confirmed that several of the buildings housed dead pigs.

"As a government we have acted in time to put an end to this situation. The community could see how urgent it was to act immediately," the minister said.