Samsung toxic chemical scandal Versus Irish Air Corps toxic chemical scandal

Samsung has apologised to employees who developed cancer at one of its computer chip manufacturing facilities following a ten-year legal battle.

The announcement comes after the company and a group representing ailing Samsung workers agreed to accept compensation terms and end a highly-publicised standoff. The company’s apology was part of the settlement.

Kim Ki-nam, the head of Samsung’s semiconductor business, said: “We sincerely apologise to the workers who suffered from illness and their families. We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories.”

Campaigners claim that 320 employees at Samsung have developed illnesses after being exposed to toxic chemicals at in its chip factories. They also claim that 118 people died as a result.

Read more on the Telegraph UK

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Here is a list of some of the chemicals used by Samsung and surprise, surprise all of them bar one were used by the Irish Air Corps in different hangars, labs & workshops at Baldonnel & Gormanston aerodromes.

In fact Trichloroethane was so “borrowed” by other units that almost every location at Baldonnel would send personnel up to the Engine Shop to  obtain some TRIKE in plastic Coca Cola bottles, milk cartons, aerosol lids or any other vessel capable of begging some of the liquid. Trike was used to clean, degrease or even just remove black marks off floors. 

This last usage meant that on at least 2 occasions floors in the Air Corps Training Depot were actually disolved in separate incidents years appart. One where old fashioned lino was dissolved back to the backing twine and another years later were a lecture room was mopped with a 25 litre drum of Trike that resulted in the vinyl floor tiles shrinking & curling up and the wall paint disolving & flowing off the walls onto the floor. 

ChemicalUsed By SamsungUsed By Air Corps
Trichloroethylene
aka TCE aka Trike
YesYes
DichromatesYesYes
DimethylacetamideYesYes
Thinners (containing Benzene, Toluene, Xylene).YesYes
Arsine YesNo
Sulphuric AcidYesYes
ResponseKim Ki-nam, the head of Samsung’s semiconductor business, said: "We sincerely apologise to the workers who suffered from illness and their families. We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories.”You were not exposed to toxic chemicals.
If you were exposed to toxic chemicals you should have worn the PPE provided.
You should have relied upon the Chemical Training provided.
You should have used common sense.

Note that the “independent third party” investigator, Christopher O’Toole, is a retired barrister from the office of the Attorney General (an office incidentally being sued by exposed personnel..so much for third party independence). O’Toole could find no documentation to back up the Air Corps / State Claims Agency claim that PPE was provided nor that Chemical Training was provided….simply because it WASNT…not until 2017 a full 2 years after the whistleblower’s protected disclosures.

Furthermore O’Toole DID NOT investigate ILLNESS, O’Toole DID NOT investigate CHEMICAL EXPOSURE. O’Toole only really investigated whether documentation to prove Air Corps compliance with Health & Safety legislation existed prior to 2015 and he could find NONE.

My expertise is in the area of law and in carrying out this review it was my intention to examine compliance by the Air Corps with the relevant law and regulation. I was not in a position to consider the substances in use or any implications for human health arising from such use as these issues are outside my competence. The allegations concern both the current health and safety regime and compliance with that regime in a period stretching back over 20 years.

Delay – Deny – Die

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 25/10/18 – Department of Defence – Sick Leave

Jack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)

QUESTION NO: 70

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of sick days taken by members in each service of the Defence Forces to date in 2018. [44411/18]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

In line with other sectors, sick leave statistics for the Defence Forces are compiled annually and provided to the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform (D/PER). These statistics are used in order to track the levels of absenteeism across the public service. The absence rates for the public service are then published by D/PER.

The total number of sick leave days claimed by members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps as of the 23rd October is outlined in the tabular format below.

ServiceSick Leave 2018
Up to 23/10/18
Service Strength
Up to 31/10/18
Average Sick Leave Per Person
Army55,24272367.5
Naval Service5,4209935.5
Air Corps6889709
9.7
Total67,55190287.5

 

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Why are Air Corps personnel 30% sicker than their Army counterparts. 

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann – Public Accounts Committee – 08/11/18

Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)

I will move on to another area regarding the State Claims Agency. It relates to the Air Corps. The Air Corps used to hold information in relation to health and safety. Deputy Ó Snodaigh looked for information and stated it was misplaced. Subsequently, there was a court case. There were some whistleblowers. The State Claims Agency stated that no admission was made that the defendants exposed the plaintiff to dangerous chemicals or solvents, and that is the nub of what it relates to.

The State Claims Agency stated that it could confidently claim that there were no injuries due to any act or omission on its part and yet there was no documentation that could provide that confidence. Subsequently, there was a report, the O’Toole report, which stated that the records to demonstrate health and safety compliance are not readily available.

In such a situation where there is the absence of information, how can the State Claims Agency state it can confidently predict or state something when records were not available?

Mr. Ciarán Breen (State Claims Agency)

I apologise Chairman, I did not realise we were going to examine the general indemnity scheme. Generally, I am vaguely familiar with the particular case. While I do not have the exact facts or recollection of it, I am guessing that the reason we confidently stated what we did was either because of where the person was working or we had come to an independent view informed by the Air Corps around those liability issues. I really cannot put it further than that.

Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)

Could Mr. Breen follow up with a note on it?

 

Mr. Ciarán Breen (State Claims Agency)

I will certainly. Maybe afterwards, the Deputy might give me the name of the case and I will follow it up.

 

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The State Claims Agency were aware from late 2013 / early 2014 that the Health &  Safety failings at Baldonnel were in fact an “ongoing” issue and not just a “legacy” issue and failed to intervene by requesting the services of the HSA to protect Air Corps personnel. It took the actions of whistle-blowers at the end of 2015 before the HSA intervened in 2016 to improve Air Corps Health & Safety. 

The State Claims Agency Risk Management branch had been carrying out “Safety Management Systems” audits of the Irish Air Corps, in selected units and at formation level, for a decade before the Health & Safety Authority were forced to intervene to protect personnel from ongoing CMR chemical exposures in 2016.

The NTMA operates a discretionary performance-related payments scheme for eligible employees, which includes staff assigned to the State Claims Agency. The scheme rewards exceptional performance having regard to the employee’s own performance, the performance of the employee’s area of responsibility and the overall performance of the NTMA. Performance-related payments are made in accordance with parameters approved by the Agency’s non-executive Remuneration Committee.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 06/11/18 – Department of Defence Health and Safety

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

QUESTION NO: 124

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he has taken or plans to take on foot of the O’Toole Report which has been sent to the whistle-blowers 12 months ago and feedback received a number of months ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter 45046/18.

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

The State Claims Agency is currently managing 7 claims taken by former and current members of the Air Corps for personal injuries alleging exposure to chemical and toxic substances whilst working in the Air Corps.

Three written disclosures were made, in November and December 2015 and January 2016, under the provisions of section 8 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, relating to alleged failings in the Defence Organisation in the area of Health and Safety. Legal advice was sought on how best to progress certain disclosures as elements related to matters which are the subject of the ongoing litigation. I appointed an independent reviewer to examine the disclosures.

Following receipt of the report of the independent reviewer, I invited the views of those who had made the disclosures and published the report. I also sent the report to the Chief of Staff for the views and actions of the military authorities to be set out. In parallel to the independent review, following an inspection in 2016, the Air Corps had continued to work with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to improve its health and safety regime. I have been informed by the military authorities that the HSA has formally noted the considerable progress made to-date by the Defence Forces towards implementation of a safety management system for the control of hazardous substances. Subject to completion of the improvement plan the HSA investigation is closed. However, it must be noted that in the Air Corps health and safety is a matter of ongoing monitoring, supervision and adjustment.

I am considering the responses I received from the parties and legal advice in the context of ongoing active litigation before deciding on the next steps to be taken….blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah 18 men dead since Minister for Defence first notified minister considering report for a year now. 

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities can drive sufferers into poverty as well as ill health

Consider the trappings of modern life: Calvin Klein Eternity, gasoline, Gore-Tex, hairspray, paint, particle board, polyurethane iPod cases.

Now imagine that you’re allergic to virtually all of them.

Environmentalists usually think about chemical toxicity as either a dramatic local crisis (Bhopal, Love Canal) or the simmering concern of those far away (breast-feeding mothers in the Arctic) or far in the future (our oft-evoked grandchildren). But for people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, the chemical crisis is already here. Indeed, thanks to industrialisation, it is already everywhere. And, like so many environment-related health issues, it disproportionately affects the poor and, moreover, drives many once financially stable people into poverty.

As a disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities doesn’t have an official case definition yet (more on this soon), but rather refers to a broad range of adverse symptoms brought on by an even more broad array of everyday chemicals. These symptoms are often provoked at exposure levels far below those that seem to affect the rest of the population — levels virtually always present in our homes, workplaces, and social venues. They commonly include severe headaches, food intolerance, difficulty breathing, nausea, irritation of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin, and disorientation or confusion, but there are many more.

Current theories range from a genetic predisposition to chemical injury, to neurological damage, to abnormalities in detoxifying enzymes, to a so-called “toxicant-induced loss of tolerance” to environmental stressors, in which one particular exposure to a toxic substance overwhelms a person’s system and leaves them unable to cope with exposures to a wide range of other toxins.

It can be even more difficult finding an MCS-safe job. Even if a workplace itself is a tolerable environment (rare, given the ubiquity of toxic building materials), basic job-related interactions with the general public can be impossible. “The way a typical story goes,” says Zwillinger, “is that people lose the ability to make a living because they can’t be out in the public arena” without getting ill. Some MCS patients find a way to work from home (assuming they’ve found safe housing) — but that option is seldom available to poorer Americans forced to rely on low-wage, low-skill jobs.

It’s a bitter irony, since many with MCS see themselves as canaries in the modern-day coal mine. As recently as 1986, the exquisitely sensitive yellow birds were used to detect the presence of dangerous gases in mine shafts, and when they showed signs of illness — when they ceased to sing — it was an unambiguous warning: evacuate.

As growing numbers of MCS sufferers are driven from their homes and jobs, pushed to the fringes of medical science and the brink of financial ruin, made sick by industrialised civilisation itself, we would do well to heed their equally urgent warning. And fast, because this time around we can’t evacuate. There’s nowhere else to go.

Read the full article on Grist

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Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors are the canary in the coalmine for inflammatory illness being caused by ubiquitous chemical exposure in our home, work, vehicles, food & clothing. 

The appalling high concentration chemical exposure suffered by Air Corps personnel caused chemical related illnesses in young fit men & women in a very short space of time making us a very valuable cluster for medicine & science to study.

Study us, fix us and there will be a public health dividend. 

Protest by ex-Air Corps personnel targets Minister Paul Kehoe

A group of former air corps personnel say they will campaign against junior defence minister Paul Kehoe’s re-election in his Wexford constituency in protest at his response to health and safety issues within the force.

The group, Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors, picketed outside Mr Kehoe’s constituency office in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, on Saturday, and have claimed that 19 of their former colleagues have died since whistle-blowers raised concerns three years ago.

Seven former air corps technicians are suing the State, alleging that their exposure to toxic solvents in the course of their duties has caused them to suffer from chronic illnesses including cancer.

“Both the Minister for Defence, Leo Varadkar, and the minister of state with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, have failed to offer medical help to save the lives and ease the suffering of Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors and apparently believe the best place to get medical help is via the High Court,” said the protest group in a statement.

“In the meantime the State Claims Agency is doing all in its power to prevent cases of injured Air Corps personnel from reaching court in order to hide their own negligence.”

PRESS RELEASE – ACCAS launch de-election campaign for Junior Minister for Defence

Both the Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar and the Minister of State with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe have failed to offer medical assistance to save the lives and ease the suffering of Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors and apparently believe the best place to obtain medical help is via the High Court. In the meantime the State Claims Agency is doing all in its power to prevent cases of injured Air Corps personnel from reaching court in order to hide their own negligence.

We recognise the Junior Minister Kehoe has a vulnerable Fine Gael seat in the Wexford constituency and we have started our campaign to prevent his re-election.

  • We need non means tested medical cards for personnel who served in Irish Air Corps prior to
  • We need awareness campaigns for exposed Air Corps personnel & former work experience students from the University of Limerick.
  • We need access to state backed medical vigilance & cancer screening programs.
  • We need coordination of GPs, consultants & hospitals nationwide.

Minister Kehoe does not have the courage nor conviction to help. Minister Kehoe appears happy to let men who served in the Irish Air Corps die unnecessarily. 19 men have died since the first Health & Safety protected disclosure was made in 2015. Some of these men could have been saved.

We will ACTIVELY canvass AGAINST Minister Paul Kehoe T.D. in the next general election. This is one seat Fine Gael will NOT be relying upon in the 33rd Dáil.

Delay – Deny – Die

Dáil Éireann – 8th November 2018 – Public Accounts Committee

Catherine Murphy T.D. (Kildare North)

Public Accounts Committee

Deputy Murphy questions Mr. Ciaran Breen the Director of the State Claims Agency, regarding the agency’s stance on claims taken agains the Irish Air Corps regarding unprotected toxic chemicla exposure.

 

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 23/10/18 – Department of Defence – Health and Safety

Jack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)

QUESTION NO: 172

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the changes in health and safety policies that have been implemented following the publication of the report of the independent reviewer, protected disclosures, Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43404/18]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I have sought the information from the military authorities and will revert to the Deputy when it is to hand.

 

Jack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)

QUESTION NO: 173

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a programme that monitors actual exposure of Defence Forces members to hazardous substances either via personal air monitoring or biological monitoring as outlined in the report of the independent reviewer, protected disclosures, Air Corps is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43405/18]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I have sought the information from the military authorities and I will revert to the Deputy when it is available.

 

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DELAY – DENY – DIE

Air Corps chemicals safety system ‘deficient’

The safety management of chemical hazards within the Air Corps was “significantly less developed than expected” when inspected in 2016, according to an internal report by the health watchdog.

The document is the latest to raise questions about historic conditions within the Air Corps base at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, amid whistle-blower allegations and personal injury claims taken against the State by former personnel who now suffer chronic illnesses.

In late 2015, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) received complaints by former and serving members of the Air Corps, who had claimed personnel were not being adequately trained or being protected from the effects of the cancer-causing chemicals used to service aircraft.

The HSA inspected the site and then wrote to the Air Corps to threaten legal action against the force unless its recommended improvements were implemented, as previously reported by the Irish Examiner.

These recommendations included providing gloves, eye protection, and respirators to those using toxic chemicals, and the monitoring of personnel’s health.

While the HSA has since closed the case and said the Air Corps has implemented its recommendations, a review of the case, released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals further criticism of conditions in Baldonnel at the time of the inspection.

“However the safety management system for control of chemical hazards was noted to be significantly less developed than would be expected for an organisation of the size and resources of the Air Corps,” the HSA inspector noted in his review.

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…