Casement Aerodrome technical reports “cannot be located”

The Department of Defence said it cannot locate copies of technical reports from the 1990s which raise concerns about health and safety conditions at the Air Corps headquarters in Casement Aerodrome.

It comes after opposition TDs made claims of a “cover-up” and suggested the files may have been destroyed.

The Irish Examiner, in January last, revealed the State is being sued by six former Air Corps staff who claim their chronic illnesses were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals while working at Casement Aerodrome.

We also reported how, last October, the Health and Safety Authority issued a warning to the Air Corps over its management of staff exposure and wellbeing, following protected disclosures from three whistleblowers.

Sinn Féin defence spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh told the Dáil, in February, he had “seen health and safety reports going back as far as 1995, all of which pointed specifically to the issues that were addressed in the Examiner newspaper”.

“So this is not a new issue,” he stated at the time.

“This is a cover-up because the military authorities in Casement Aerodrome did not take the required steps; when it was highlighted to them that dangerous chemicals existed, they didn’t take those steps.”

Read more on the Irish Examiner website here.

Two men suing State over Air Corps chemical exposure say they have contracted cancer

Two of the men who are trying to take cases against the Air Corps over claims they were exposed to dangerous chemicals at Baldonnel Airfield say they have contracted cancer since starting the litigation.

The men, who have been attempting to have their case heard since 2013, are just two of six people who have cases which are currently at the ‘discovery’ phase.

One of the men was diagnosed with skin cancer last week. He says he has it in three places on his body – his head, arms and leg.

The other man says he was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2015. A tumour was discovered on his kidney after several visits to his doctor.

The men have maintained that their exposure to a number of chemicals at Baldonnel Airfield has led to them suffering from serious illnesses.

Read more on The Journal website here.

Watch Primetime on Tuesday 16th May where RTE will ask Minister Kehoe no hard questions about Air Corps Toxic Chemical Scandal.

Watch RTE Prime Time tomorrow featuring Minister Paul Kehoe and Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

RTE will NOT be asking any hard questions about large numbers of poisoned Air Corps personnel at both Casement & Gormanston Aerodromes nor will they discuss the high number of deaths & mutagenic diseases amongst the children of serving and Air Corps personnel.

RTE would not engage with ACCAS for this program.

‘In one case, a retired member’s wife had eight miscarriages in succession’ Irish Army Air Corps Toxic Chemical Scandal

A DEFENCE FORCES whistle-blower has made a protected disclosure alleging that a number of children of Air Corps workers have died as a result of being exposed to toxic chemicals at Baldonnel Airfield.

In a document seen by this publication, a Defence Forces whistle-blower has said that he has uncovered “the untimely deaths of at least 20 adults…of which I believe died of illness related to unprotected chemical exposure”.

The protected disclosure details the rank and specific illness of each of those who have passed away. We are not publishing these details as to do so would breach data protection rules.

There are also claims that the partners of male members of the force suffered serious fertility issues and a number of miscarriages. Other children, according to the protected disclosure, are living with life-changing illnesses.

Read more on The Journal website here.

Updated Photo of Irish Air Corps NDT Workshop

We have updated our annotated photograph of the black hole of Baldonnel, that being the Non Destructive Testing (NDT) workshop of the Engine Repair Flight (ERF).

We have also added the old European hazard symbols (up to 2007) as well as the current R-Phrases as sub-menus under the Chemical Info menu.

Below are just 2 (lethal) chemicals from 1 location. All tech locations in Baldonnel used chemicals as well as photo section and refuelers. In all up to 300 different chemicals were in use with ZERO safety precautions.

Chemetall Ardrox 666

  • Dichloromethane:Methylene Chloride (Xn, R40)
  • Cresylic Acid (T, C, R24/25, R34)
  • Solvent Naphtha (Xn, N, R10,R37, R51/55, R65, R66, R67)
  • Sodium Chromate (T+, N, R45, R46, R60, R61, R21, R25, R26, R34, R42/43, R48/23, R50/53)
  • Dipentene:Limonene (Xi, N, R10, R38, R43, R50/53)
Risk Phases
  • R45 May cause cancer.
  • R46 May cause heritable genetic damage.
  • R60 May impair fertility.
  • R61 May cause harm to the unborn child.
  • R34 Causes Burns.
  • R42/43 May cause sensitisation by inhalation and skin contact
  • R52/53 Harmful to aquatic organisms, may cause long term averse effects in the aquatic environment.

Chemetall Ardrox 1074

  • Orthophosphoric Acid (C, R34)
  • Ethyl-methyl-ketone (F,Xi, R11, R36, R66, R67)
  • 2,2’-oxydiethanol;diethylene-glycol (Xn, R22)
  • 2-Butoxyethanol (Xn, R20/21/22, R36/38) Citric Acid (Xi,R36)
  • Hydroflouric acid (T+, C, R26/27/28, R35)
Risk Phases
  • R11 Highly Flammable
  • R20/21/22 Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin or if swallowed.
  • R26/27/28 Very toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed.
  • R34/35 Causes burns / Severe Burns.
  • R36//37/38 Irritating to eyes, respiratory system and skin.
  • R66 Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness or cracking.
  • R67 Vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness.

Silver Bullet – Another human cost of the Irish Air Corps Toxic Chemical Health & Safety scandal

Finding a silver bullet would be a good thing.

It would be great to get a the definite answer or even to establish why I am suffering in silence, embarrassed by years of sudden uncontrollable bowel issues, breathing issues & aching to the bones even after the slightest bit of manual work. Looking at other men your age running and exercising every day without a hint of tiredness.

When you say to your family that you have no energy to do basic household maintenance work you really mean it and are not being lazy or when you suddenly seem to enter a dark mood and depressive state for no reason.

Have ticked a lot of the boxes for the range of “unexplained symptoms” listed so far and I am really hoping that they are not caused by the workplace environment & chemical products handled over the years. Because it creates a real daily worry as to what the future holds. What quality of life will I have if some of the more serious illnesses that colleagues have suffered eventually get a grip on me!

See the known list of illnesses suffered by Air Corp Chemical Abuse survivors below.

The Athlete I Married – Another human cost of the Irish Air Corps Toxic Chemical Health & Safety scandal

My husband joined the Irish Army Air Corps as an apprentice in 1991, he was 17 years old. He was so young in fact he was legally classed as a child soldier which required his parents to sign away their legal guardianship to the Minister for Defence. Prior to joining the Air Corps he was one of Donegal’s top junior athletes.

I met him in 1992 while he was still living in in the apprentice hostel accommodation at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. At that stage he had already represented the Air Corps at athletics and was a regular member of their winning Business House League cross country team. At 18 years of he was running a 10k in 31 minutes and a 5k in 15 minutes. He was full of life and I remember meeting this force of energy. He was very funny and had more energy than I thought possible in one individual. Fast forward to 2017 and now aged 43 he can now only manage a 5k in his mobility scooter.

A year after I met him he graduated from the Air Corps Apprentice School and moved “up camp” to Avionics Squadron where within a few short months he became very emotional and started to suffer from extreme anxiety. He went, in a short space of time, from being a huge force of energy to an unpredictable troubled man and that is how he has remained.

Through 20 years of marriage and 24 of the 25 years that I have known and loved him I still feel lucky enough that he hasn’t lost all of his love of life. But although he is losing more of his physical ability each day he still manages a smile and he still loves me and the children. He still wants to be energetic for me and his family but as his list of medical problems get progressively worse his driving force gets more and more depleted.

24 years ago his medical problems started with anxiety & stress then a sudden loss of all pigmentation in his right leg & groin area where all the hair went white and all his skin pale after a tubbing incident with an unknown chemical. There is still a visible line with two different skin tones each side. Later followed stomach ulcers and Crohn’s like bowel problems which are a constant source of embarrassment.

Next started the nerve damage, pins & needles, loss of sense of touch in arms & legs and eventually sudden excruciating pain in random parts of the body as bad as a toothache but 1,000 times worse.

Then came the “in your head” diagnosis. The vast majority of Irish doctors & consultants simply have no experience of industrial diseases but they all have a deep need to “pigeonhole” and move on. As my husband got progressively worse his GP was convinced that he was simply malingering and suggested that he see a psychiatrist.

After suffering at the mercy of an unsympathetic Irish medical establishment for many years he finally discovered a specialist in Scandinavia who invited him over for tests. He has been diagnosed with Stage 3 Chronic Solvent Induced Encephalopathy. Stage 3 is the top of a 1 to 3 scale and means that damage has reached as far as his internal organs.

He has suffered Thermoregulation Vasoconstrictor failure, this means his body cannot control his body temperature, he sweats when he is cold, shivers when he is hot and every step in between.

And it goes on, he has suffered Cardioaccelerator failure of his heart. This means that his body cannot increase his heart rate when needed, so his heart constantly pumps at a slow rate meaning even climbing a stairs is like climbing Mount Everest to him. If his heart rate cannot speed up it cannot pump enough oxygen around his body causing huge fatigue. Staying with his heart he has also suffered Cardiodepressor function failure which results in complicated blood pressure problem. He also suffers Baroreflex Hypersensitivity.

These genuinely are only a fraction of the abnormal tests results, in fact we cannot understand many of the results as they are so technical but they prove why my husband is so weak & tired all the time.

This consultant Neurophysiologist confirmed that due to the litany of autonomic nerve damage there are only a few chemicals in use that can cause such damage. But one thing is certain, all of the chemicals that are capable of causing the injuries my husband suffers from were used in the Irish Army Air Corps with utter disregard to any chemical health & safety.

It is further shocking to learn that the failures of health & safety in the Air Corps that were present and known about in the 1990s, are only now being remedied in 2017. This took several protected disclosures to the Minister for Defence, the Chief of Staff and the Health & Safety Authority.

My husband held the Irish Defence Forces fitness test 2 mile run record for 15 years. It was 9 minutes 6 seconds and was only beaten about 6 years ago by another proud Donegal man. Today even his top of the range mobility scooter cannot beat that time.

Does anyone know what it feels like to watch the man you love go through all of this suffering & pain and to then watch the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe say in Dáil Éireann that the Irish Air Corps has a very high standard of health & safety?

It is like listening to a rapist defending himself in court by saying that he did what he did out of love…

A Second Life – Another human cost of the Irish Air Corps Toxic Chemical Health & Safety scandal

It was 1998 when my brother Stephen began feeling unwell. He started coughing a lot and needed a few pillows to sleep on. He was coughing a lot of fluid up from his lungs and was very short of breath. We all thought it was a bad chest infection but sadly within weeks everything got much worse.

My first recollection is of my mam & dad carrying Stephen to the car late one night. It looked so odd for him to have his arms over both their shoulders. When I looked closely only his tip toes were touching the ground, they were dragging him!  I felt sick, I was 17 at the time.

Multiple late night visits to casualty became the norm in our house. He was told his heart was the size of a football and it was so weak that it couldn’t pump fluid away from his lungs. He was drowning. He was 24 or 25 years old and was very unwell. He was admitted to St Bricans Military Hospital in Dublin for review. That was the start of the waiting game. The doctors were trying to obtain a diagnosis , a cause and a treatment plan. It was never decided how this all came about. Maybe just a bit of bad luck!

Within weeks Stephen became very unwell. He was in agony with chest pain, stomach pains, hunger, thirst and every other symptom you can imagine. He often voiced that he couldn’t live like this and he didn’t want to anymore. He was admitted to the Mater and put on the heart transplant list. He was very very lucky to receive a new heart within months of his diagnoses, “Dilated Cardiomyopathy”.

For many years, Stephen led a normal life or perhaps that should be extraordinary, he travelled the world, he studied hard in college. It was hard to keep track of him. He had (and has) an amazing circle of family & friends. He worked hard to obtained a degree, a masters and had just started studying again for his doctorate shortly before he became ill again.

Throughout his life “post transplant” Stephen had to attend multiple Out Patient hospital appointments, he had to take medication every 12 hours and had a myriad of extra tests to endure. All his organs & body systems were affected. Throughout the years he suffered from stomach pains, kidney function issues & spontaneous pneumothorax. I’m sure there are plenty of other symptoms but he never complained and made it look easy.

Sadly, in December 2012, only months after he retired after 21 years service, Stephen lost that fight age 39. He always said his second life started post transplant. He was extremely grateful and led a life of healthy living. His level of fitness & nutrition stood to him. He didn’t want to waste a minute of his “second life”.

His heart finally failed during the night in the CCU in Beaumont Hospital. My colleagues worked extremely hard but it was too late. The day he was buried was the worst day of my life and I suppose the worst day of everyone who knew him. Stephen was supposed to be reading a best man speech for his friend Keith that day, not having a speech/eulogy read out about him.

It saddens me to think that his life was taken early and that it may have been prevented. We have all wondered over the years why his heart was affected and are still looking for answers.

Stephen worked in Avionics Squadron at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. The Avionics workshops shared a building with the Engine Repair Flight (ERF) workshops where air quality tests were commissioned by the Irish Army Air Corps in August 1995. These independent tests found that Dichloromethane, which had a TWA legal limit of 50ppm, was measured in parts of ERF at 175ppm.

Avionics & ERF personnel were NOT informed by Air Corps health & safety management that the air quality was found to be over the health & safety limits but instead were left in the same dangerous working environment for a further 12 years. Air Corps health & safety management ordered these Air Quality test results destroyed in 2006/2007.

Read more about the cardiac, gastric, respiratory and other health effects of Dichloromethane (also know as Methylene Chloride) below.

PDFORRA waiting for reply on Irish Army Air Corps toxins exposure fears

The organisation representing members of the Defence Forces is still waiting for a reply after raising concerns about the exposure of members of the Air Corps to cancer- causing toxins.

PDFORRA wrote to both the Defence Forces and Department of Defence six months ago — prior to the publication of a damning Health and Safety Authority report on working conditions in Baldonnel — the details of which were revealed in an Irish Examiner investigation.

Ger Guinan, deputy general secretary of PDFORRA, said he became “acutely aware” of chemical exposure concerns having met with Dutch counterparts at a European Organisation of Military Associations (Euromil) conference last year.

Read more on Irish Examiner Website