73 Untimely deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical scandal

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 73 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 60 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 37 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 from cardiac
  • 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.

Hearings needed into Air Corps whistle-blower claims – Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for an Oireachtas inquiry into the claims made by Air Corps whistle-blowers that Defence Forces personnel suffered serious health consequences over decades as a result of toxic chemical exposure.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“I have drafted a Dáil motion calling for the establishment of a special Oireachtas committee to conduct relevant hearings into the claims made by Air Corps whistle-blowers and I will be seeking cross party support for it.”

“Informal research made by one of the whistle-blowers, provided to the Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe, raises questions over a number of deaths of former serving Air Corps personnel. Currently 73 deaths have occurred to personnel aged under 66 with the average age of 50.”

“The research has pointed to an unexplained, higher than normal concentration of very rare illnesses among relatively young former Air Corps personnel. They have called for a full health survey of serving and former Air Corps members, and those who worked in the Aerodrome to be carried out.”

“The aim of survey would be to try and quantify fully the scale and range of the health issue which they have linked to daily exposure to dangerous, corrosive and carcinogenic chemicals in areas of the Air Corps base.”

“The State was aware of these concerns following a number of reports Health and Safety drafted as early as the 1990s which highlighted dangerous working conditions and chemical exposures in Casement Aerodrome, in Baldonnel, County Dublin, which were not acted on.”

Please read the press release in full on the Sinn Féin website.

http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/52575

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DELAY – DENY – DIE

Irish Air Corps whistle-blower claims death toll from chemical-linked illnesses surpasses 72

A MAN WHO is taking the State to court over his time in the Air Corps believes 72 of his colleagues died prematurely, linking their deaths to alleged chemical exposure at work.

The recent death of a former airman has brought the alleged death toll to 72, according to the whistle-blower.

He also alleges that:

  • 72 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980
  • 59 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 36 of these deaths have occurred since 2010

The whistle-blower is claiming that the State neglected health and safety rules and exposed himself and his fellow workers to seriously harmful levels of toxic chemicals. This continues to be strongly contested by the State.

The whistle-blowers in this case alleges there was a disregard for the safety of young Air Corps members. According to an online resource created for those who believe they were affected by the chemical exposure, there was:

  • No meaningful chemical risk assessments.
  • No risk specific health surveillance
  • No Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issued
  • No chemical health and safety training whatsoever
  • No reporting of health and safety incidents
  • No follow up of unusual illnesses by medical personnel
  • Ignoring dangerous air quality reports
  • Personnel doused in toxic chemicals as pranks (hazing) incidents
  • Highly toxic chemicals disposed of onsite in an unsafe manner

Read full article on The Journal website below…

72 Untimely deaths recorded in #IrishAirCorps toxic chemical scandal

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 72 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 59 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 36 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 from cardiac
  • 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 49 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths or murder.

Navy (New Zealand) veteran’s landmark compensation deal has others with Parkinson’s fearing trichloroethylene

Hundreds of New Zealanders may have been affected by a toxic chemical in a wide range of workplaces, a Weekend Herald investigation has found.

The discovery follows a landmark compensation pay-out to a New Zealand navy veteran who proved links between exposure to the solvent during his military service and his Parkinson’s disease.

The Herald reported last month that Veterans Affairs has provided the ex-serviceman with an entitlement to disability compensation for Parkinson’s, a condition attributed to his exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) while degreasing and cleaning electronics on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship during the 1948-1960 Malayan Emergency.

The Weekend Herald has since tracked down other men who fear their handling of TCE in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s could have caused their debilitating diseases and who now want to pursue their own compensation cases.

A former New Zealand Post Office telephone exchange technician, a naval dockyards apprentice and an aircraft engineer have all spoken about using TCE in their workplaces for years, without any health and safety precautions.

None of them used gloves or breathing apparatus while being exposed to the potent halocarbon that was popular across an array of sectors and workplaces in New Zealand, including garages, railway and aircraft workshops, and other depots.

“Trichlo was strong enough to bowl you over,” said 65-year-old Steve Walker, an ex-New Zealand Post Office employee at the Balclutha exchange, who now struggles with Parkinson’s. “It seeped into your skin, into your clothes. It took over you completely.”

Dave Schafer, a 58-year-old who used TCE weekly while cleaning instruments on Navy frigates during a five-year apprenticeship at the Devonport naval base, said: “Holy cow, that stuff was powerful. But as apprentices you kept your mouth shut and did your job, you didn’t rock the boat.”

Parkinson’s New Zealand, the Returned and Services’ Association (RSA), and those spoken to by the Weekend Herald, all believe there will be many more New Zealanders – hundreds if not thousands – who have been exposed to TCE over the years.

“Researchers have suggested there could be a significant lag time between exposure to TCE and the onset of Parkinson’s,” said Parkinson’s New Zealand chief executive Deirdre O’Sullivan.

“As such, we have reason to believe there could be many more serving and/or ex-serving NZDF people in a similar situation to this veteran.”

The potentially precedent-setting Navy veteran’s decision was made on appeal to the independent Veterans’ Entitlements Appeal Board, which considered appeals against decisions made under the War Pensions Act 1954.

It was made possible by ground-breaking international research including a major 2011 study on TCE exposure that concluded it was likely to result in a sixfold increase in the chances of developing Parkinson’s.

Read more on the New Zealand Herald’s website

*****

Interesting that the New Zealand Herald article discusses exposure in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. No mention of the 1990s onwards obviously because the industries there using the chemical copped on in the 1990’s.

Unfortunately the Irish Air Corps was still exposing personnel to Trike, (without protection) in ERF / Avionics in the 1990s and well into the first decade of this century and likely elsewhere in Baldonnel & Gormanston

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann Leader’s Questions 30/11/17 – Irish Air Corps

Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)

In addition to his other duties the Taoiseach has retained for himself the role of Minister for Defence. It is not clear to me that he takes any real responsibility for the area of Defence. It is not acceptable for a Cabinet Minister to simply delegate the entire responsibility for a Government Department to a Minister of State. The Taoiseach does not answer parliamentary questions on the matter. I do not know if he attends monthly management meetings of the leadership team of the Department of Defence or if he regularly attends meetings with the Secretary General or other senior officials of the Department.

He seems to be sidestepping personal responsibility for his Department. Very serious issues are arising. The wives and partners of Defence Forces personnel are outside the gates of Leinster House this morning to continue to highlight some of these issues, in particular the clear fact that many members are leaving because they cannot live on current earnings. The Tánaiste will tell the House that the matter is being examined by a public sector pay commission, but the Government was happy to act unilaterally in respect of the new Garda Commissioner and the highly paid academics we needed to attract. I believe genuinely that the Government would find consensus in the House for a bespoke pay review for the Defence Forces, which is warranted and urgently required. I cannot understand why it is willing to recognise the Garda associations in pay negotiations but will not do the same for the representative associations of Defence Forces’ personnel.

Reports this week have made it clear that an Air Corps whistleblower faces discharge from the Defence Forces. That a serving member of the Defence Forces can face disciplinary action for chronic inactivity, as it was stated, following a work-related industrial dispute is disconcerting, in particular when it is reported that he has told the Minister of State that he was targeted for raising safety concerns. Mr. Christopher O’Toole has been appointed to examine protected disclosures on the working environment at Casement Aerodrome. It is reported that the terms of reference he was given were impractical. This is all the more concerning now that we know the State Claims Agency carried out a number of health and safety management audits of the Defence Forces and that the Defence Forces can only offer speculative explanations for why prior inspection reports from Casement Aerodrome have gone missing. That is unsatisfactory, especially in the light of the fact that copies of these documents are in circulation among politicians and the media. Efforts to establish whether the documents were deliberately destroyed have amounted to asking the Defence Forces to investigate themselves.

What action will the Government take to ensure every member of the Defence Forces will earn at least a living wage? Will it commit to recognising Defence Forces’ associations in pay negotiations? Is it satisfied that the Defence Forces’ members who met the Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, to discuss these concerns are receiving the full protection warranted under the Protected Disclosures Act? Has it considered the establishment of a commission of investigation to establish whether the health and safety management regime at Casement Aerodrome meets the standards of the day and whether the allegations have any credibility?

Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)

The Deputy has asked a lot of questions. If I do not get to all of them on the floor of the House, I will respond having spoken to the Minister of State with responsibility for defence matters. I am personally familiar with some of the cases referred to and previous whistleblowers in relation to issues at Casement Aerodrome. I commit to coming back to the Deputy in detail on these issues.

Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)

That is appreciated.

Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)

The Government may have to make decisions on future actions there and we await recommendations from the Minister of State in that regard. It is something in which I have taken a personal interest and of which I have some knowledge, but I cannot go into the detail on the floor of the Dáil.

Seán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)

It needs to happen on the floor of the Dáil.

 

Alan Kelly (Tipperary,Labour)

Look at what happened in the last week.

Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)

There will be answers to these questions.

On the wives and partners of Defence Forces’ personnel who are making a point today, I note that successful negotiations with the Permanent Defence Force representative associations have led to significant pay increases under the Lansdowne Road agreement for Defence Forces’ personnel. The public service stability agreement for the period 2018 to 2020 provides for a series of further pay increases in the next three years. Given the ministerial offices Deputy Brendan Howlin has held, he will know of the difficulty in separating one sector from all others for special treatment in public sector pay, but that is what he is asking us to do. There are other issues about what the Department of Defence can do about other supports available to Defence Forces’ personnel. There have been reviews in that regard. There are many sectors in the economy and society that can make a very valid case for improved pay and working conditions. I understand that, of course, the Defence Forces will make that case for themselves through the representative organisations and, in this case, private family members. Of course, the Government will listen. However, we have to operate within a certain pay structure across the public sector. If we were to start to dismantle it for individual sectors, the Deputy knows of the chaos it would cause.

As a former Minister for Defence, I record the Government’s strong appreciation of the role the Defence Forces play. I have visited many peacekeeping missions around the world and had the privilege to spend time with families who have lost loved ones in the service of the country in the Defence Forces. They are valued. We are building personnel numbers in the Defence Forces and the recruitment campaign is a success. We are adding substantially more personnel to the Defence Forces than we are losing and will continue to see that trend develop into 2018.

Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)

I appreciate the Tánaiste’s reply and understand he cannot give me a comprehensive response on the Casement Aerodrome issues. I look forward to either a direct briefing or a written response in due course. I have full knowledge of pay issues in dealing with the public service as a whole, but there is a compelling case to be made for separating out the Defence Forces for a bespoke review. I say this in the full knowledge of how difficult it would be. The shockingly low pay levels across the sector are having an impact on retention in key skills areas. When these difficulties arose in the health sector, we managed to formulate a way to deal with them. For example, we had a formula for skilled nurses. We need to recognise what is happening. The fact that the people concerned are not allowed to manifest their voices publicly does not mean that they should be ignored. As such, I ask whether consideration will be given to a unique pay review within the Defence Forces and outside the Public Sector Pay Commission.

Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)

The Minister of State with responsibility for defence matters tells me that this is happening in the context of having special skill sets within the Defence Forces. It is important to note, having regard to the broader arrangements in place, that combined increases in recent months for new recruits have ranged from 8% to 24%, depending on the point on which they are on the pay scales. We are seeing an economy which can afford to pay the public sector more. The bodies which represent members of the Defence Forces have bought into and want to be part of negotiations and their members are starting to benefit, but that is not to suggest there is no frustration in the Defence Forces. However, across the public sector, including within the Defence Forces, deals negotiated with representative bodies mean that we will see continuous improvements in pay into the future, which is positive.

On the Air Corps, the Minister of State has only recently received observations and replies from the three individuals who made protected disclosures on the independent review report which he had commissioned and forwarded to them. Having received responses on the report from the three individuals, the Minister of State will have to make recommendations to the Government. We will make decisions on whether further action is required.

Alan Kelly (Tipperary,Labour)

The Taoiseach is the Minister.

 

*****

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann – Questions from Opposition Leaders or their representatives to the Government – 30th November 2017

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 24/10/17 – Department of Defence – State Claims Agency

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

QUESTION NO: 437

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of years the State Claims Agency has been auditing the Defence Forces. [44987/17]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

The State Claims Agency have conducted Health & Safety Management System audits of the Defence Forces since 2006. These type of audits were completed in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

*****

It now comes to light why the State Claims Agency are fighting Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors with surprising vigour and happy to let personnel die rather than assist them.

The State Claims Agency, and by association the National Treasury Management Agency, are equally culpable & negligent in the Air Corps toxic chemical scandal which shows their state wide Health & Safety Management System audit regime is built on sand.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

European Commission – Pregnant Worker Directive 92/85/EC

Directive 92/85/EC – Pregnant Workers

Introduced 19th of October 1992

Pregnant woman standing outside on a sunny day

Objective

The objective of this Directive is to protect the health and safety of women in the workplace when pregnant or after they have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding.

Contents

Under the Directive, a set of guidelines detail the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered dangerous for the health and safety of pregnant women or women who have just given birth and are breast feeding.

The Directive also includes provisions for physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

Pregnant and breastfeeding workers may under no circumstances be obliged to perform duties for which the assessment has revealed a risk of exposure to agents, which would jeopardize their safety or health. Those agents and working conditions are defined in Annex II of the Directive.

Member States shall ensure that pregnant workers are not obliged to work in night shifts when medically indicated (subject to submission of a medical certificate).

Employers or the health and safety service will use these guidelines as a basis for a risk evaluation for all activities that pregnant or breast feeding workers may undergo and must decide what measures should be taken to avoid these risks. Workers should be notified of the results and of measures to be taken which can be adjustment of working conditions, transfer to another job or granting of leave.

The Directive grants maternity leave for the duration of 14 weeks of which 2 weeks must occur before birth.

Women must not be dismissed from work because of their pregnancy and maternity for the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the period of leave from work.

Annex I – Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.4 of the directive (assessment and information)

A. Agents

1. Physical agents where these are regarded as agents causing foetal lesions and/or likely to disrupt placental attachment, and in particular:

(a) shocks, vibration or movement;

(b) handling of loads entailing risks, particularly of a dorsolumbar nature;

(c) noise;

(d) ionizing radiation (*);

(e) non-ionizing radiation;

(f) extremes of cold or heat;

(g) movements and postures, travelling – either inside or outside the establishment – mental and physical fatigue and other physical burdens connected with the activity of the worker within the meaning of Article 2 of the Directive.

2. Biological agents

Biological agents of risk groups 2, 3 and 3 within the meaning of Article 2 (d) numbers 2, 3 and 4 of Directive 90/679/EEC (¹), in so far as it is known that these agents or the therapeutic measures necessitated by such agents endanger the health of pregnant women and the unborn child and in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II.

3. Chemical agents

The following chemical agents in so far as it is known that they endanger the health of pregnant women and the unborn child and in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II:

(a) substances labelled R40 (limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect), R45 (May cause cancer), R46 (May cause inheritable genetic damage), and R47 (May cause birth defects) under Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II;

(b) chemical agents in Annex I to Directive 90/394/EEC (Protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens) ;

(c) mercury and mercury derivatives;

(d) antimitotic drugs;

(e) carbon monoxide;

(f) chemical agents of known and dangerous percutaneous absorption.

B. Processes

Industrial processes listed in Annex I to Directive 90/394/EEC.

C. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

Annex II – Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.6 of the directive (cases in which exposure is prohibited)

A. Pregnant workers within the meaning of Article 2 (a)

1. Agents

(a) Physical agents

Work in hyperbaric atmosphere, e.g. pressurized enclosures and underwater diving.

(b) Biological agents

The following biological agents:

– toxoplasma,

– rubella virus,

unless the pregnant workers are proved to be adequately protected against such agents by immunization.

(c) Chemical agents

Lead and lead derivatives in so far as these agents are capable of being absorbed by the human organism.

2. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

B. Workers who are breastfeeding within the meaning of Article 2 (c)

1. Agents

(a) Chemical agents

Lead and lead derivatives in so far as these agents are capable of being absorbed by the human organism.

2. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

*****

The Irish Army Air Corps only started carrying out “adequate” risk assessments in the past year so for 25 years pregnant females at Baldonnel were dangerously exposed to Carcinogens, Mutagens & Teratogens.

Any pregnant females working in proximity to running aircraft or aircraft being refueled, such as in the ramp area, or downwind of the ramp were exposed.

  • Exhaust gasses contain Carbon Monoxide as well as TetraEthyl Lead and other hydrocarbon fumes.
  • AVGAS – 100LL  refuelling fumes contained Gasoline, Tetraethyl Lead, Toluene, Xylene, Ethylbenzene, Cyclohexane, n-Hexane, Trimethylbenzene, Naphthalene and Isopropylbenzene.
  • AVTUR – Jet A1 refueling fumes contain Kerosine, Ethylbenzene, Xylene and Isopropylbenzene.
  • Fuel System Anti Icing additives used by the Irish Army Air Corps included 2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethanol which is a known to cause reproductive and developmental toxic effects.

Furthermore pregnant females working in or entering into Avionics, ERF or Engineering Wing hangar were being exposed to further known Carcinogens, Mutagens and Teratogens including Dichloromethane, Isocyanates & Trichloroethylene to name but a few.

Due to the fact that the working dress & overalls of technicians were (and still are) brought home to be washed in domestic family washing machines it is extremely likely that pregnant spouses & partners of Air Corps personnel were also affected.

This may have lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, lifelong genetic diseases & developmental conditions such as autism in the children of personnel.

European Commission – Young people at work directive (94/33/EC)

Directive 94/33/EC – Protection of Young people at work

Introduced 22nd June 1994

Objective

The aim of this Directive is to lay down minimum requirements for the protection of young people at work.

Definitions

The directive gives legal definitions for the terms “child”, “adolescent”, “young person”, “light work”, “working time” and “rest period”.

Contents

Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit work by children. They shall ensure, under the conditions laid down by this Directive, that the minimum working or employment age is not lower than the minimum age at which compulsory full-time schooling – as imposed by national law – ends or 15 years in any event.

This Directive shall apply to any person under 18 years of age having an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or governed by the law in force in a Member State. Exceptions can be adopted by Member States for occasional work or short-term work, involving domestic service in a private household or work regarded as not being harmful, damaging or dangerous to young people in a family undertaking.

The Directive defines “young people” as people under the age of 18 and “children” as young people under the age of 15 or who are still in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation. Adolescents are young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who are no longer in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation.

Member States may make legislative exceptions for the prohibition of work by children not to apply to children employed for the purposes of cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities, subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in each specific case; to children of at least 14 years of age working under a combined work/training scheme or an in-plant work-experience scheme, provided that such work is done in accordance with the conditions laid down by the competent authority; and to children of at least 14 years of age performing light work. Light work can also be performed by children of 13 years of age for a limited number of hours per week in the case of categories of work determined by national legislation.

‘Light work’, as defined in the Directive, shall mean all work which, on account of the inherent nature of the tasks which it involves and the particular conditions under which they are performed is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children, and is not such as to be harmful to their attendance at school, their participation in vocational guidance or training programmes approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received.

Employers shall adopt the measures necessary to protect the safety and health of young people, taking particular account of the specific risks which are a consequence of their lack of experience, of absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or of the fact that young people have not yet fully matured. Employers shall implement such measures on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the hazards to young people in connection with their work according to Art 6/2 of the Directive. The assessment must be made before young people begin work and when there is any major change in working conditions.

The employer shall inform young people and their representatives of possible risks and of all measures adopted concerning their safety and health.

Member States shall prohibit the employment of young people for:

  • work which is objectively beyond their physical or psychological capacity;
  • work involving harmful exposure to agents which are toxic, carcinogenic, cause heritable genetic damage, or harm to the unborn child or which in any other way chronically affect human health;
  • work involving harmful exposure to radiation;
  • work involving the risk of accidents which it may be assumed cannot be recognised or avoided by young persons owing to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training;
  • or work in which there is a risk to health from extreme cold or heat, or from noise or vibration.

In addition, the Directive contains provisions relating to working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.

Each Member State is responsible for defining the necessary measures applicable in the event of infringement of the provisions of this Directive; these measures must be effective and proportionate to the offence.

*****

It appears the Air Corps failed this directive as soon as young people (apprentices) set foot inside the gates of Casement Aerodrome. At the of time this European Commission directive was issued crumbling asbestos on central heating pipework was present in all 4 landings of the old hostel apprentice accommodation. In fact in previous years apprentices were ordered to carry out asbestos removal without any training, PPE or health surveillance. 

Please also note that on the 11th of September 2017 the HSA wrote to the Irish Army Air Corps requesting….

It should be confirmed that the findings of Asbestos Surveys for relevant buildings at the facility, or the corresponding Registers of Asbestos-Containing Materials {ACMs), have been brought to the attention of  building managers and/or incorporated into the building management system. You are referred to relevant HSA published guidance – Practical Guidelines on ACM Management and Abatement, Section 7.