RSPCA meets Tata over cat death claim at Port Talbot steelworks
RSPCA officials have met managers at Port Talbot's Tata steelworks where an internal investigation into alleged animal cruelty is underway.
The steel giant is refusing to comment on the allegation while it probes a complaint from someone outside the works that a cat died after a worker threw it into an empty molten steel vessel.
However, it said the company had no problem with the site's population of feral cats as this helped keeps rat numbers down.
It has also highlighted the workforce's animal welfare record, pointing out staff had often called in the RSPCA because they were worried about injured foxes, cats and birds.
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Tata has already confirmed the worker at the centre of the complaint has been suspended as a "precautionary measure".
At this stage the alleged incident is being treated as isolated. Tata spokesman Robert Dangerfield said: "The employee has been interviewed, and the investigation will involve interviews with other members of the workforce, and others.
"If that throws up any other allegations then we will investigate them as well. If there is any reason to extend the investigation, we will pursue that.
"We do have feral animals around the site. It's a very large site and wild animals can get in. We actually welcome cats because they keep the vermin down.
"For the same reason we are happy to see peregrine falcons nesting in our tall buildings. We have even had them in the blast furnaces.
"We know we have a population of feral animals. We keep an eye on it but it has a job to do. Workers on-site welcome the animals that do get onto the site and regularly look after them in one way or another.
"They're not pets but they are seen around and about."
Mr Dangerfield said Tata officials had held a meeting with the RSPCA to share details of the investigation.
"The RSPCA officers that attended commented that they come out to our site on a regular basis, usually because reports have been made by caring steelworkers regarding feral animals they are worried about. It may be a lame fox or cat. On one occasion a seabird had swallowed fishing line and managed to get it ravelled around a lamppost.
"So there is that side of it," added Mr Dangerfield.