Investigation after bag suspected to contain cocaine found at Baldonnel airbase

An investigation has been launched after a bag suspected to contain cocaine was found at the Baldonnel airbase.

Officers Mess – Baldonnel

According to a Defence Forces source, the bag was found outside the Officers’ Mess car park last night.

A spokesperson for the Air Corps said: “I can confirm that an unknown substance was recovered in an area of unused ground in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

“A Military Police investigation has commenced.

“Óglaigh na hÉireann does not comment on ongoing Military Police Investigations.”

Former Defence Forces mechanic wins appeal over order halting damages claim

Court of Appeal overturns High Court finding over action time limits

A former aircraft mechanic with the Defence Forces has won his appeal against an order halting his damages action over injuries allegedly suffered as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at work.

The Court of Appeal overturned a High Court finding that Ian Coughlan’s action was brought outside the applicable time limits and thus bound to fail.

The High Court relied on inadmissible evidence in coming to that finding, the three judge Court of Appeal held in its judgment on Wednesday.

The application to halt the case must now be reconsidered in line with the Court of Appeal’s findings.

 

Mr Justice Noonan said Mr Coughlan, both during and after his employment with the Defence Forces, attended a large number of doctors about his complaints. Mr Coughlan himself has long believed there was an association between his complaints and his working environment but says he was repeatedly assured by doctors he was wrong about this, the judge noted.

Mr Coughlan says it was only in November 2011, when he got a verbal opinion from a clinical toxico-pathologist, a Professor Howard, that he became aware of a causal link between his symptoms and his employment.

He claimed that was his date of knowledge for his cause of action and, because his proceedings were issued in 2013, they were within the two – year limit stipulated in the Statute of Limitations Act.

The defendants argued his date of knowledge long pre-dated the November 2011 opinion. They said he had seen a toxicologist, a Dr Wood, in London in 2008 and exhibited a January 2009 report by Dr Wood in arguing his claim was statute barred.

The judge found an objection by counsel for Mr Coughlan to the admissibility of the Wood report on hearsay grounds was “well-founded”. The Wood report had the same status as a document produced in the course of discovery, it does not prove itself and it was inadmissible as hearsay, he held.

Even if the report was properly admitted and properly proved, fair procedures required its contents should have been put to Mr Coughlan in cross-examination to give him a fair opportunity to deal with it, he also held.

Read full article on the Irish Times website below…

*****

It should be noted that in order to comply with a recent Supreme Court order in relation to a separate case the Irish Air Corps have until the 6th of April to provide a full list of toxic workplace chemicals they have withheld from former personnel. 

Delay – Deny – Die

Former Defence Forces mechanic wins appeal over order halting ‘chemicals’ damages claim

A former aircraft mechanic with the Defence Forces has won his appeal against an order halting his damages action over injuries allegedly suffered as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at work.

The Court of Appeal overturned a High Court finding that Ian Coughlan’s action was brought outside the applicable time limits and thus bound to fail.

In proceedings against the Minister for Defence and the State, he alleges he was exposed to toxic chemicals used for degreasing aircraft parts, was not provided with proper protection against the effects of those and suffered personal injuries.

Among various claims, he alleges he suffered dizziness, skin rashes, nasal irritation, sores, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue and headaches, skin yellowness and bloody diarrhoea.

Mr Justice Noonan said Mr Coughlan, both during and after his employment with the Defence Forces, attended a large number of doctors about his complaints. Mr Coughlan himself has long believed there was an association between his complaints and his working environment but says he was repeatedly assured by doctors he was wrong about this, the judge noted.

Mr Coughlan says it was only in November 2011, when he got a verbal opinion from a clinical toxico-pathologist, a Professor Howard, he became aware of a causal link between his symptoms and his employment.

He claimed that was his date of knowledge for his cause of action and, because his proceedings were issued in 2013, they were within the two year limit stipulated in the Statute of Limitations Act.

The defendants argued his date of knowledge long pre-dated the November 2011 opinion. They said he had seen a toxicologist, a Dr Wood, in London in 2008 and exhibited a January 2009 report by Dr Wood in arguing his claim was statute barred.

Mr Coughlan said in an affidavit Dr Wood was “very much limited” in expressing an opinion as to any causal connection between his employment and his injuries because of a lack of information available to the doctor concerning the chemicals and solvents to which he had been exposed.

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…

*****

It should be noted that in order to comply with a recent Supreme Court order in relation to a separate case the Irish Air Corps have until the 6th of April to provide a full list of toxic workplace chemicals they have withheld from former personnel. 

Delay – Deny – Die

Aerotoxic Syndrome : A new occupational disease?

Background

Concerns related to adverse health effects experienced by aircrew exposed to aircraft contaminated air have been ongoing for over 6 decades.

Unfiltered breathing air is supplied to the cabin via the engine compressor. The likelihood that oil leaking over the engine oil seals may enter the cabin air supply has prompted continuing debate about the hazards associated with exposure to neurotoxic substances and to the thermally degraded or pyrolysed mixture.

In this study, we undertook an in-depth investigation of aircrew involved in suspected aircraft contaminated air events.

Methods

Two studies were conducted to review the circumstances and symptoms of a cohort of aircrew working in the pressurized air environment of aircraft. A table of effects was then used for categorizing symptoms and reviewing other sources of data related to aircraft fluids and selected other conditions.

Results

Both acute and chronic exposures to neurotoxic and a wide range of thermally degraded substances were confirmed, along with a clear pattern of acute and chronic adverse effects. The latter were supported by medical findings and diagnoses, notably involving the neurological, neurobehavioural and respiratory systems.

Conclusion

A clear cause and effect relationship has been identified linking the symptoms, diagnoses and findings to the occupational environment. Recognition of this new occupational disorder and a clear medical investigation protocol are urgently needed.

Engine bearing oil leak on compressor blades in CFM56-7 engine on a Boeing 737. This oil leak was within acceptable manufacturer limits and this engine is still fully serviceable.
Yep we know the Irish Air Corps don’t have any 737 aircraft but this Boeing Aircraft Maintenance Manual shows engine bearing compressor oil leaks are routine and don’t necessarily cause the engine to become U/S.

Download scientific research paper from the World Health Organisation…

*****

  • This is of relevance for personnel who serve or have served in Air Corps aircraft with bleed air pressurisation systems.
  • This of relevance to personnel who worked closely with turbine engine oils
  • This of relevance to personnel who were tubbed with turbine engine oil.
  • This of relevance to personnel in Engineering Wing hangar who used air tools or respirators fed from the old ERF compressor.

Delay – Deny – Die

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD reiterates call for formal investigation into chemical exposure on Air Corps personnel

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has today reiterated his call for the Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe to establish a formal investigation into the health effects of years of exposure to toxic chemicals on Irish Air Corps personnel

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of current and former members of the Irish Air Corps (both civilian & military) were exposed to a vast cocktail of highly dangerous workplace chemicals including carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants and immune sensitisers.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said;

“The failure of the Air Corps management to implement even the most basic chemical safety provisions possibly resulted in considerable physical and mental health injury to exposed personnel.


“The exposure to toxic chemicals for decades appears from figures collated by former Air Corps personnel to have contributed to a very high number of fatalities from a variety of rare and complex cancers, cardiovascular disease and suicides, and also high rates of miscarriage of partners.

“For 20 years, military authorities ignored recommendations from safety reports and only acted when their failure to act was highlighted by whistleblowers.

Read full press release on Sinn Féin website below…

*****

Please view the honourable & fair demands of
Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors  here.
  • 77 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 64 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 40 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
  • 25 of these deaths have occured since the Minister for Defence was notified by Protected Disclosure in 2015
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • Approximately a third of deaths are from  cancer
  • Approximately a third of deaths are cardiac related
  • Approximately a fifth of deaths are from suicide (15)
*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 50 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths or murder.

Delay – Deny – Die

Protestors encourage voters not to give Paul Kehoe any preference votes

Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe is being targeted by former members of the Defence Forces who are trying to encourage voters in the forthcoming General Election not to vote for him.

The former Fine Gael chief whip has been a Fine Gael TD for County Wexford since he was first elected to the Dáil in May 2002 and a Minister of State for Defence since 2016.

In the last election, he secured a seat in the Dáil by beating his nearest rival Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen by just 52 votes.

Protestors are targeting his constituency offices and those of his party colleagues Michael D’Arcy.

They want to encourage people not to give Deputy Kehoe any preference votes, which helped get him elected the last time round.

The protesters are former members of the Air Corps who belong to the Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors (ACCAS) who claim they suffer illnesses due to their exposure to toxic chemicals while working for the Air Corps.

According to the group, Minister Kehoe has done little or nothing to help them get the medical support and health screening services they want.

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…

*****

Please view the honourable & fair demands of
Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors
 here.

Delay – Deny – Die

Do not give Paul Kehoe ANY preference in #GE2020

The Minister for Defence was informed  about ongoing unprotected toxic chemical exposures at Baldonnel in 2015 via numerous Protected Disclosures.

At the time the minister was warned that 8 men may have suffered untimely deaths due to chemical exposure.

After further research Kehoe was informed in 2018 that we had discovered a further 48 untimely deaths bringing the total to 56.

As of now January 2020 we have records of 77 untimely deaths of Irish Air Corps personnel. Some of these men died by their own hands and could have been saved if Kehoe intervened but he chose to do nothing.  Doing nothing meant that men continued to die unnecessarily.

A HSA investigation threatened legal action in 2016 unless the Air Corps complied with the Safety, Health and Welfare At Work Act, 1989 (updated 2005).

A sham “independent third party”  investigation by a retired barrister from the office of the Attorney General which was ordered by Kehoe found no evidence that the Air Corps had implemented any chemical health and safety prior to whistleblowers making complaints to the minster and the HSA. Kehoe could have sent in a chemical expert, Kehoe could have sent in a medical expert but Kehoe decided to send in a government barrister and pretended he was an independent third party.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by the Air Corps Minister Kehoe never once expressed concern for former members of the service and never sought to ascertain the true health state of exposed serving and former personnel.

KEHOE MUST GO – KEHOE HAS BLOOD ON HIS HANDS

  • 77 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 64 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 40 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • Approximately a third of deaths are from  cancer
  • Approximately a third of deaths are cardiac related
  • Approximately a fifth of deaths are from suicide
*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 50 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths or murder.

77 *Untimely deaths recorded of Irish Air Corps personnel

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 77 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 64 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 40 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • Approximately a third of deaths are from  cancer
  • Approximately a third of deaths are cardiac related
  • Approximately a fifth of deaths are from suicide
*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 50 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths or murder.

USAF airmen sick from Hexavalent Chromium & Dichloromethane exposure

Dangers in the Air – Part 1: Documents show Keesler workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Some maintenance workers at the 403rd Air Wing at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi said they have become seriously ill from exposure to hazardous materials because of poor safety practices. The workers, and documents from Keesler, indicate base management was aware of the problems as far back as 2009, and either ignored them or was hampered by military bureaucracy to solve them quickly.

Larry McDonald, left, Joshua Powell, center, and Sean Delcambre all worked for the 403rd Maintenance Wing at Keesler Air Force Base. They are among at least six workers that have fallen ill because of what they believe is workplace exposure to hexavalent chromium.

WLOX News Now spoke to six of these employees; three didn’t want their names used for fear of retribution from superiors at the 403rd. One of the employees said he was threatened with demotion if his complaints continued. Instead of backing down, he and others filed requests for a Congressional Investigation through Sen. Roger Wicker’s office.

Workers said they turned to the senator and a veterans’ organisation for help after they felt their problems were being ignored.

“It just kind of feels like they’re waiting for us to die to make it go away,” said Joshua Powell, one of the affected workers.

One of the workers, Sean Delcambre, died on Aug. 5 after his cancer spread so fast, doctors could not stop it.

SAFETY HAZARDS

Larry McDonald of Gulfport, like many of the maintenance workers at the 403rd, is both a full-time civilian employee and a member of the unit as a reservist. McDonald, 40, has been stationed at Keesler since 2010, working as a sheet metal mechanic in a cluster of buildings that documents show have been plagued with safety hazards in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), Department of Defense and Air Force rules. Those violations are detailed in a series of base Work Request forms filed since 2009, and reports filed by the base’s Bioenvironmental and Occupational Health departments and the 81st Medical Group.

The documents show workers in these buildings are exposed to hexavalent chromium, lead, strontium chromate, and methylene chloride, all dangerous substances. Some are known carcinogens.

Hexavalent chromium is the highly toxic chemical that was at the center of environmental controversy depicted in the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich, featuring Julia Roberts.

HEALTH ISSUES

McDonald said he began to have health issues in 2012. By 2014, those symptoms became much worse, and a doctor told him he had several masses in his sinuses and a deviated septum.

The OSHA fact sheet on hexavalent chromium states that “repeated or prolonged exposure can damage the mucus membranes of the nasal passages and result in ulcers. In severe cases, exposure causes perforation of the septum.”

At least one of McDonald’s coworkers we talked with has similar symptoms.

The exposure to the chemicals happens when workers sand paint off of C-130Js and airplane parts and repaint them. 1,500 people work for the 403rd, including 450 in the Maintenance Group.

OSHA rules define what safety equipment must be worn and what levels of exposure are acceptable.

“TURNED THEIR BACK”

Another worker who has become sick said the unit “turned their back” on members of the 403rd.

Joshua Powell was transferred to the 403rd in June 2015 from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. Powell worked in the ISO hangar, away from the buildings where McDonald worked. However, Powell said he had to go to that cluster of buildings on a regular basis and ate in the break room there.

Sean Delcambre’s brother, Michael, helps him drink water at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile on June 18, 2019. Delcambre died on Aug. 5. (Source: Amy Delcambre)

Sean Delcambre, who also worked in building 4301, was diagnosed with stage 3-B Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December 2018. In June, he was diagnosed with 30-CD positive anaplastic lymphoma. Delcambre died in August.

Delcambre, who joined the Air Force on 2005, said in April that he never had any reason to think that proper safety procedures were not being followed. Years later, he started to hear about exposure issues at other bases. Then his son was stillborn in December 2014.

Delcambre had passed all the physicals to become a pilot or navigator, but cancer put that dream on hold.

“It certainly was a shock to have a disease (ulcerative colitis in 2016) come up like that at 31 years old, and a year later get sick again and to find out I had cancer at 33. Before that I was otherwise healthy,” he said.

ABOVE THE LIMITS

Records of a September 2015 inspection show airborne levels of hexavalent chromium in Building 4301 were almost three times above Occupational Environmental Exposure Limits.

Those levels could have existed for at least four years, McDonald said, because sanding and priming were being done in open areas of the complex or just inside open bay doors with little or no containment of materials. That practice was cited in the October 2015 reports that described toxic dust escaping into other parts of building 4301, including the break room where workers gathered for lunch.

Keesler documents show that in September 2009 until at least June 2012, the walk-in blast booth, Building 4302, could not be used because of electrical problems, moving the work into open areas of the complex.

The 403rd Maintenance Wing complex at Keesler Air Force Base. Workers there say they were exposed to hexavalent chromium when sanding and painting was done outside the paint booth, located inside building 4301.
The 403rd Maintenance Wing complex at Keesler Air Force Base. Workers there say they were exposed to hexavalent chromium when sanding and painting was done outside the paint booth, located inside building 4301. (Source: Google Earth)

Powell and McDonald said supervisors didn’t follow the proper OSHA and Air Force procedures after that 2015 inspection, which include giving exposed workers medical exams to test for contamination. OSHA regulation states “The employer shall make medical surveillance available at no cost to the employee, and at a reasonable time and place, for all employees… whenever an employee shows signs or symptoms of the adverse health effects associated with (hexavalent) chromium VI exposure.”

OSHA rules also say that workers exposed to hexavalent chromium should be given an medical evaluation within 30 days of initial assignment. That test would create a baseline for future health tests. Delcambre, Powell and McDonald said that was never done.

A response from Keesler in July stated that they began blood tests on workers exposed to the chemical in December 2017, but exposure levels at the maintenance facility have never required additional testing.

Read full article and watch videos on WLOX website

https://www.wlox.com/2019/08/19/dangers-air-part-documents-show-keesler-workers-were-exposed-dangerous-chemicals/

*****

Delay – Deny – Die

  • Same chemicals in use at Irish Air Corps, Baldonnel. 
  • Same illnesses suffered by serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel.
  • Irish Air Corps “didn’t do” Health & Safety prior to 2017.
  • Strontium Chromate used by Air Corps technicians with their bare hands.
  • Ulcerative colitis common amongst serving & former Air Corps personnel.
  • Autoimmune & immune diseases common amongst serving & former Air Corps personnel.
  • The Irish Air Corps has a shameful record over many decades of treating injured personnel as malingerers and actively bullying them for being unwell.

Kehoe won’t say when Air Corps respirator training began

The junior defence minister has refused to say when Air Corps technicians were first trained to use respirators for working with toxic chemicals.

Technicians’ exposure to harmful substances in the line of duty is “a cause of significant concern”, according to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, who submitted queries on the use of respirators, and protected disclosures, to minister of state Paul Kehoe.

Ms Murphy had asked Mr Kehoe the date on which it became policy and standard practice to train or up-skill new and existing members of the Defence Forces, as part of basic training, in the use of respiratory protective equipment.

Mr Kehoe said he was advised that the question appeared “to involve matters which are raised in the proceedings currently before the courts”.

“The deputy will appreciate that, as the questions appear to encroach into on-going litigation, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Mr Kehoe said.

Ms Murphy said she was disappointed with Mr Kehoe’s response, and that a lack of transparency only causes mistrust.

“I don’t know why he isn’t more forthcoming with the information. It will be revealed in the court cases anyway,” she told the Irish Examiner.

“I am trying to get information to build a picture here, because what I can see, so far, is a cause of significant concern, to put it mildly.”

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…