Death rate among former Irish Air Corps personnel needs to be examined, expert says

Whistleblowers blame premature deaths on exposure to toxic chemicals without PPE

The rate of deaths among former Air Corps personnel who have been exposed to dangerous chemicals needs to be examined by the Government, a leading public health expert has said.

Anthony Staines, who is professor of health systems at DCU, said the number of former personnel who have died prematurely appears to be higher than what would be expected for that population.

Protected disclosures about the exposure of aircraft technicians to dangerous chemicals at Baldonnel Airfield were first made to the Government in 2015.

One of the whistleblowers, former Air Corps technician Gavin Tobin, has been keeping track of serious illnesses and premature deaths in former colleagues which he believes may have been caused by exposure to these substances without personal protective equipment (PPE).

As of Friday he had recorded 96 premature deaths resulting from a variety of illnesses, including heart problems and rare forms of cancer. The average age of those who died is 52, he said.

Prof Staines told The Irish Times he has examined the figures provided by Mr Tobin and found them “surprising”.

He said the death rate is not particularly out of step with the general population but that “this is a group of people where the death rate should be low!”.

Read full article by Conor Gallagher the Irish Times website…

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Dáil Éireann Written Answers 20/06/17 – Defence Forces – No investigation into missing reports

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will instruct an independent third party to carry out an investigation into the reason Forbairt inspection reports dating from the 1990s cannot be found in view of his department’s failure to locate the Forbairt files and in further view of the possible significance of these missing documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26895/17]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

As I indicated to the Deputy in my letter of 17 May 2017, I was advised by the Military Authorities that there was a report on measuring CO fumes from aircraft complied by Forbairt in 1995 and a further report on monitoring air contaminants in workshops in 1997, which was also complied by Forbairt.

Unfortunately, following an extensive search and the Military Authorities having consulted with Enterprise Ireland (which superseded Forbairt) and having also conducted a search within the Department it has not been possible to locate these reports.

The military authorities have indicated that the Defence Forces have neither a hard copy record nor an electronic copy of the Forbairt Reports. The Military Authorities have indicated that there are a range of potential causes for the loss of the reports such as the changeover of electronic recording systems in 2004 or that the reports were misplaced over time. However this is purely speculative.

It is not proposed to have an independent third party carry out an investigation into the reasons the Forbairt reports cannot be found.