ANIMAL rights activists have disrupted operations overnight at the Diamond Valley Pork Slaughterhouse in Victoria.
The protest was timed to coincide with Animal Liberation NSW and Animal Liberation Victoria releasing video footage of pig slaughter gained through covert operations.
But the incident also coincides with a court appointment today in Cootamundra for two people charged with 22 offences relating to repeated break and entering on piggeries in NSW over recent years.
It’s understood animal rights activists entered the Diamond Valley facility at 2am with three men and a woman chaining themselves onto components linked to the abattoir’s carbon dioxide stunning facility.
Victorian police were called to attend the scene with various charges now expected to be laid including break and enter.
A spokesperson for Diamond Valley told Fairfax Agricultural Media the protest disrupted the facility’s operations - which comprises about 300 staff - for about three and a half hours this morning.
Processing operations have now re-started but about 50 protesters remain outside the facility and are continuing to hinder logistics by blocking trucks and other “interference”, the spokesperson said.
“These people are making the situation chaotic,” the spokesperson said.
It’s understood about 20 or 30 police officers are attending the scene where protesters also gained access to the pork processing facility’s roof.
The Animal Liberation NSW Facebook page said today: “Animal Liberation groups from around Australia have chained themselves to a Victorian slaughterhouse gas chamber to coincide with the release of damning undercover pig slaughter footage”.
“Animal Liberation NSW and Animal Liberation Victoria today released footage from a two-year undercover investigation detailing horrific pig abuse in Australian abattoirs.
“Activists from four States are now carrying out non-violent civil disobedience actions at one of the slaughterhouses investigated - chaining themselves to the gas chambers, blockading transport trucks to give respite and water to terrified and exhausted pigs, occupying and dropping banners from the slaughterhouse rooftop, and ringing police to ensure the violence and cruelty to pigs is stopped.
“The joint campaign details shocking scenes of pigs being mercilessly forced with high amperage electric prods into metal cages, then lowered into a gas chamber where they scream, thrash, kick and struggle to escape as the gas causes burning sensations throughout their bodies and they suffocate.”
But Australian Pork Limited communications general manager Emily Mackintosh said the protesters had ulterior motives and consequences to their actions.
Ms Mackintosh said it was sad to see the protestors risking their lives and disrupting legitimate business operations to serve their cause.
She said civil disobedience or peaceful protest was welcome in a democratic society allowing people to have their say, but “this type of protest risks peoples’ lives”.
Ms Mackintosh said the video footage released by Animal Liberation was also highly edited “which is not surprising” to try and gain an emotional response by making the abattoir operations seems “as graphic as possible”.
“The inside operations of an abattoir are never pleasant - even when everything’s done the right way – just the same as if you were witnessing surgical procedures inside a hospital,” she said.
“But it’s interesting that the message at the end of the video says 'Go Vegan' which really says it all.
“This is not about animal welfare – this is about a bigger agenda of trying to humanise animals and stopping people eating meat by closing down intensive livestock production on-farms.”
The Age is reporting that 39-year old Noah Hannibal is one of three men who chained themselves inside the abattoir, preventing slaughter operations during the protest.
“Our purpose was to draw attention to the horrific animal abuse that happens inside gas chambers,” he said.
The report also said Animal Liberation Victoria spokeswoman Kristin Leigh as saying the activists had travelled from South Australia, NSW and Canberra to participate in the protest.
As reported by Fairfax Agricultural Media in October, NSW police charged two animal activists with 22 offences in total, relating to alleged break and entering on piggeries throughout the State and planting hidden video equipment.
The 24-year old man charged with 17 of the 22 offences - Chris Delforce (pictured above) - is a former Canberra based web-designer and animal rights activists.
He has operated the Aussie Pigs website which has published extensive images and video taken from nearly 40 piggeries throughout NSW.
It’s understood Mr Delforce won’t be appearing at the Cootamundra Local Court hearing today and will instead be represented by his lawyer during any proceedings.
NSW police have said a 37-year-old Ryde woman was also charged with numerous break and enter offences on piggeries across NSW.
“In June 2015, police executed an extra-territorial search warrant in Adelaide and simultaneously a search warrant was executed in the Sydney suburb of Ryde,” a statement released in October said.
“The strike force, led by the Cootamundra rural crime investigator Detective Senior Constable Paul Clancy, examined a plethora of evidence which culminated in the charging of the man with 17 separate offences and the woman with five.
“Police allege that the two animal activists broke into the piggeries and installed electronic recording devices in contravention of the Surveillance Devices Act.”
The Diamond Valley website said it had a “modern slaughtering plant, processing pigs to customer specifications” with export and RSPCA accreditation and capacity to process 13,500 pigs per week.