What did the British ever do for us? A fit for purpose solvent extraction system at Irish Air Corps!

The British Royal Flying Corps built a solvent exhaust stack at the now Irish Air Corps airbase at Baldonnel over 100 years ago. This exhaust stack stack featured a powerful fan for safely removing solvent fumes from a degreasing bath.
In the mid 1980s the Air Corps Machine Shop was moved to this location at the front of the ERF (Engine Repair Flight) building. To facilitate this move the “Trike Bath”, a heated trichloroethylene solvent vapour degreaser, was located to a new Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Shop to the rear of Engine Repair Flight (ERF). The 25 foot extractor chimney was replaced with an inadequate 6 inch fan which was ducted through a nearby window. 
Around 2006 an NDT technician in ERF turned yellow from jaundice due to a chemical induced liver injury. After the NDT technician turned yellow the officer in charge of Health & Safety ordered that the Safety Data Register and adverse air quality tests be destroyed.
The ERF building was condemned in September 2007, a fact that was denied in the Dáil by the former Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe TD.
After some serving & former ERF personnel sought their medical files throught their solicitors in early 2008 the building vanished.
#97dead #DelayDenyDie #TCE #Trike

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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Worker claims he was exposed to toxic chemicals while working on refurbishment at Intel plant

A man who has claimed he was exposed to a toxic and noxious chemical while working on a refurbishment job at the Intel Ireland plant has launched a High Court action.

Seven years after the alleged exposure the prognosis for 71-year-old John Matthews w,ho suffers from shortness of breath, is chronic, his counsel Barney Quirke SC told the court.

The claims relate to the refurbishment of a clean room where microchips are manufactured at the Leixlip, Co Kildare, plant and the pouring of a chemical sealant known as Penatron ASTC 3003c

The case is being regarded as a test case for as many as 10 other actions being taken in the High Court in relation to alleged exposure.

Opening the case, Mr Quirke SC, with Richard Lyons SC, said the alleged exposure has had a cruel effect on the life of father-of-four John Matthews and his retirement is completely altered from what he expected.

His client worked as a carpenter and was involved in what were called pop outs where the chemical Penatron was poured.

Mr Matthews, of Ardee Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, has sued his employer Ardmac Ltd with a registered office at Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co Dublin, and Intel Ireland Ltd with registered offices at Simmonscourt House, Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin. The refurbishments works on an Intel clean room were being carried out by Ardmac at the Leixlip plant.

Mr Matthews has claimed between June 2013 and October 2014 he was allegedly exposed to toxic and noxious chemicals including Penatron/ASTC 3003c while he was working at the plant.

He has also claimed a number of his co-employees were allegedly exposed to known carcinogens.

Read full article on the Irish Independent website…

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A considerable number of Irish Air Corps have gone on to work in Intel and have generally been astounded by the high levels of chemical health & safety employed there.

While it is very disappointing to hear of personnel being injured at Intel it just goes to show that even with a high quality health & safety regime dangerous exposures can still happen. 

The Irish Air Corps on the other hand had dangerous chemicals dripping down the walls from extractor fans yet still claim that Air Corps personnel were not exposed to dangerous chemicals. Safety was so poor in the Irish Air Corps that personnel didn’t even know what PPE was, it wasn’t part of the lexicon. 

Below is the safety data sheet for the sealant alleged to have caused harm in Intel. The dangerous chemical components of this sealant are called isocyanates. Isocyanates are notorious immune sensitisers and were the class of chemicals involved in the Bhopal disaster. Persons sensitised to isocyanates can suffer asthma attacks & anaphylaxis at levels as low as one part per billion. Furthermore sensitisation to one isocyanate like HDI can lead to a cross sensitisation to other isocyanates like MDI or TDI etc. 

The Spray Paint Shop at Casement Aerodrome emitted hexamethylene diisocyanate on a daily basis as a component of polyurethane paint, these emissions contaminated Engineering Wing Hangar while other personnel went about their unrelated daily business.

BFTS personnel were also exposed to methyl-diphenyl diisocyanate when they filled barrels with expanding foam for air firing at Gormanston.

If anyone who has lost a loved one before age 66, who had worked in the Irish Air Corps as military or civilian personnel or as work experience students please feel free to contact the Irish Independent journalist Rodney Edwards via email to redwards@independent.ie 

If you are serving or former personnel and if you are sick because of your service or if were or are being bullied for being sick please consider emailing Rodney too.

Veterans say Irish Air Corps to blame over health problems caused by (unprotected) exposure to toxic chemicals at work

Former airman Gary Coll can’t walk without the aid of a stick. He wakes up in pain each morning and suffers from a slow heart rate, memory loss, severe anxiety, and chronic fatigue — which he blames on having been exposed to dangerous chemicals while serving in the Air Corps over 20 years ago.

Registered disabled at the age of 35, Coll says he has suffered a litany of health problems over the years as a result, including stomach ulcers and bowel, thermo-regulation, and urinary issues.

His colleague Pat Reilly suffers a litany of problems too. They feel ignored by the State. In today’s Sunday Independent, they share their stories.

Read full article by Rodney Edwards on Sunday Independent website…

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36 men and 1 woman have died since a protected disclosure was made to Minister Simon Coveney in 2015. Minister Coveney has done absolutely nothing to provide targeted healthcare for  exposed personnel since this date despite damning findings by the HSA which the Department of Defence continue to try to downplay.

If anyone who has lost a loved one before age 66, who had worked in the Irish Air Corps as military or civilian personnel or as work experience students please feel free to contact the Irish Independent journalist Rodney Edwards via email to redwards@independent.ie 

If you are serving or former personnel and if you are sick because of your service or if were or are being bullied for being sick please consider emailing Rodney too.

Air Corps members were ‘exposed to toxic chemicals’

Two more (unfortunately 3 now) ex-Air Corps members who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals while in the Defence Forces have died in the past month, a former employee has said.

Whistleblower Gavin Tobin, who worked as a technician with the Air Corps, has claimed more than 90 former colleagues have now died prematurely and fears their deaths could have been due to the effects of cancer-causing chemicals.

Read full article by Rodney Edwards  on Sunday Independent website…https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/air-corps-members-were-exposed-to-toxic-chemicals-41049792.html

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33 men and 1 woman have died since a protected disclosure was made to Minister Simon Coveney in 2015. Absolutely nothing has been done to provide targeted healthcare for  exposed personnel since this date despite damning findings by the HSA which the Department of Defence continue to try to downplay.

If anyone who has lost a loved one before age 66, who had worked in the Irish Air Corps as military or civilian personnel or as work experience students please feel free to contact the Irish Independent journalist Rodney Edwards via email to redwards@independent.ie 

If you are serving or former personnel and if you are sick because of your service or if were or are being bullied for being sick please consider emailing Rodney too.

Air Corps whistleblower’s decision to retire “demonstrates a dysfunction in the complaints process”

The Irish Examiner revealed today that the whistle-blower – one of three who has previously raised concerns about staff’s exposure to chemicals – has announced his decision to retire early.

His decision comes two months after telling Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe that he has not received assurances from Defence Forces hierarchy that he is not being targeted for making protected disclosures.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said a list of deaths compiled by one Air Corps whistle-blower requires explanation.

The list, the existence of which was previously reported in this newspaper, contains the details of more than 70 deaths of former Air Corps staff that the whistle-blower believes may be connected to chemical exposures at the force’s headquarters in Casement Aerodrome.

She described the revelation that a whistle-blower is to retire early as ‘shocking’.

“I’m very concerned about the treatment of whistle-blowers and people making disclosures, as some arms of the public service are not dealing with them as comprehensively or fairly as they should,” Ms Murphy said.

Fianna Fáil Defence spokesman, Jack Chambers, said the whistle-blower’s decision “demonstrates a dysfunction in the complaints process” and will act as a deterrent to anyone else who is thinking about coming forward.

“This is symptomatic of the general malaise that has been allowed to fester within the Defence Forces under the current Minister. Whistle-blowers who feel that their only next option is to retire demonstrates a dysfunction in the complaints process and it certainly doesn’t encourage others who have issues of concern from engaging with the process.”

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 23/10/18 – Department of Defence – Air Corps Health Monitoring

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.

 

14th November 2018

Mr Jack Chambers, T.D.,
Dail Eireann,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.
Dear Deputy,

You will recall my recent-replies to written Parliamentary-Questions 43-404/18 and 43405/18, wherein I advised you that I had sought the requested information from the military authorities and that I would revert to you when it was to hand.

I have now received the aforementioned information from the military authorities. At the outset I would like to advise you that while the exposure monitoring programme is referenced in the June, 2017 report of the independent reviewer, it is actually outlined (as a recommendation) in the Health & Safety Authority’s Report of Inspection to the Air Corps dated 21 October, 2016, which followed three inspections by the HSA at Casement Aerodrome during 2016.

The resultant Air Corps improvement plan confirmed the Air Corps’ full commitment to implementing improved safety measures that protect workers and ensure risks are as low as reasonably practicable. The plan was implemented over eight phases, seven of which the military authorities have advised are now complete, while phase 8 – Chemical awareness training and respiratory equipment training – is a continuous, ongoing process.

Phase 7 comprised a review of the Defence Forces policy on hazardous substances. This policy was subsequently amended in September, 2017 and, inter alia, describes the Defence Forces methodology for the assessment of risk arising from the transport, storage and disposal of hazardous substances. The new policy also provides guidance for military personnel. civilian employees and other relevant persons on the risk assessment process and control and measures to be implemented to reduce the risk of injury from the use, transport, storage and disposal of hazardous substances to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.

Insofar as a programme that monitors exposure to hazardous substances is concerned, I am advised by the military authorities that the Air Corps have conducted and continue to conduct air monitoring studies at Casement Aerodrome and that the Air Corps are currently planning further air monitoring  studies in targeted areas next year.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Kehoe, T.D.,
Minister with responsibility for Defence

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 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