The council recognises potential threat to public health – Deputy Niall Collins
NEW ALLEGATIONS about more buried chemicals at the same site in County Limerick have emerged following last week’s Limerick Leader story.
An investigation has been launched by the council into claims that up to 20 barrels of toxic waste were secretly dumped in a hole on land at Friarstown, Ballysheedy some 25 years ago.
The whistleblowers contacted Deputy Niall Collins and the Leader last week with the alarming information and their belief it is connected to a "circle of cancer". The say up to 30 people have died from cancer in the Friarstown area in the last 15 years.
Deputy Collins said since the story appeared a number of individuals have contacted him to corroborate the allegations.
“One said it was true and that there was also asbestos buried at the same location but in a different hole. I asked him to draw me a map,” said Deputy Collins, who also received a lot of calls from locals worried about the possible cancer link. It is understood the current landowner doesn't know that anything is buried there.
Well known pedigree cattle breeder Paul Hannan, Friarstown, has lost his sister to cancer and his father was diagnosed earlier this year.
“There have been examples from young children who have had leukaemia to older people - age doesn’t matter. Personally, we have it in our family. I lost a sister six years ago. Today my father is very, very ill with it. We don’t know what is going on but, look, there’s something wrong. Why is it so bad in this area? I hope they find the root cause of it - it is very worrying. I have a young family,” said Paul on TV3 News.
Another local told the Leader: “There are four neighbouring households that have all been affected by cancer – through bereavement and treatment. We want to see a speedy investigation. Some people are on water schemes and some have their own wells.”
Deputy Collins held an urgently arranged meeting with Limerick City and County Council staff in Dooradoyle last Friday.
“It was a constructive meeting. I am happy that the council are taking this issue very seriously. They recognise the potential threat to public health. They have taken water samples, these are being analysed and when they get the results they will revert with a programme of action,” said Deputy Collins.
A council spokesperson confirmed the samples have been sent to Great Britain for tests and they await the results.
“Limerick City and County Council has also been in contact with the National Monuments Service to make them aware of the situation,” said the spokesperson.
As the barrels are located on an archaeological site, the council needs verification of pollution and permission of the National Monuments Service (NMS) before any investigation, disturbance or excavation can proceed.
An NMS spokesperson said: “Depending on the particular monument and the nature of the proposed activity, there are a number of different processes of the National Monuments Acts under which a person or body proposing to carry out works could refer an archaeological issue to the department for consideration. Equally such a referral could be made by an archaeologist acting on behalf of a landowner.”