Chemicals secretly buried in County Limerick dug up and then left ‘a field away’

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

A photo taken by a member of the public of the material in a ‘secure location’ in Friarstown

A photo taken by a member of the public of the material in a ‘secure location’ in Friarstown

LIMERICK council dug up secretly buried barrels of chemicals - that locals fear is linked to a spike in cancer – and then left the material just a field away, the Leader has learned.

It was revealed last week that the secretly buried toxic waste was removed by the council before Christmas. It is a year and half since whistleblowers contacted Deputy Niall Collins and the Leader with the alarming information and their belief it is connected to a “circle of cancer”. They said up to 20 barrels of chemicals were secretly buried in a field in Friarstown, Ballysheedy, around 25 years ago.

“Everyone is asking why so many people in Friarstown are passing away from cancer. It is like a circle of cancer in a mile and a half radius around where it is buried,” said the whistleblowers.

“Up to 30 people have died from cancer in the Friarstown area in the last 15 years. There are currently six or seven battling cancer and a number of others have beaten the disease. This area has been very badly hit by it,” they added.

The council commenced an investigation and confirmed that a clean-up took place last month. They said it was done with the co-operation of the current landowner, who it is understood, didn’t know that anything was buried there.

“The operation was carried out under licence from the National Monuments Service (NMS) as the land is a significant archaeological site. At least 12 barrels of materials were removed from the site, which went to a depth of around two metres. It is not known how many barrels were there originally as some of the containers had degraded.

“All of this work was supervised by an archaeologist as per the licence from the NMS. The material has been removed to a secure location where further testing is taking place to determine the best and most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the various materials,” said the council spokesperson.

The photograph above, which was anonymously given to the Leader, shows the waste. It is located a field away from where it was originally buried.

The person who gave in the photo said it can’t be too “secure” if someone could take a photo of it.

“I actually laughed out loud when I saw ‘removed to a secure location’ in the paper. They only moved it from A to B. It is full of bits of barrel and bits of everything. It is out in the open air now. We don’t know what we are breathing in. I’m afraid of my life of it. There isn’t a house on the road that hasn’t been touched by cancer. We actually felt safer when it was buried underground. We want it gone,” they said.

Deputy Niall Collins said when he was informed by the council that the material has been removed to a “secure location” he presumed it was in a warehouse.

“Then I found out they just dumped it on a sheet of plastic a field away. It is like something out of the D’Unbelievables. It has been there for a number of weeks now. I am calling on the council to fully remove it from the land and inform me and local residents where it has been taken to. Families in the locality are very worried by this and now the material is out in the open. This has already gone on far too long. It needs to be taken away to give these people peace of mind once and for all,” said Deputy Collins.

The Limerick Leader asked the council if they would like to address the concerns of locals about the waste still being there, the fact that it is out in the open and if there is a time line for removing it completely from the land.

A spokesperson replied: “As previously and repeatedly stated, results from the samples taken were cross-matched with well water samples and showed that contaminants were below laboratory detection limits and/ or less than Drinking Water Regulation limits 2014. As such, it is not deemed an area of concern and no threat to the public.”