Toxic chemical personal injury claims have been made against the defence forces as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at one of their airfields.
In early 2017, a document in which a worker employed by the Defence Forces claimed to have proof of the “the untimely deaths of at least 20 adults…of which I believe died of illness related to unprotected chemical exposure” was made public. The whistleblower was stationed at the Baldonnel Airfield.
The document included evidence that children of the Air Corps workers at the site also died due to their parents toxic chemical injury. The file mentioned specifically the death of a newborn girl due to ventricular septal defect (heart defect), a five year old boy died while having surgery to address a ‘malrotated intestine’ and a girl aged 15 died after contracting Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer. The latter girl’s father is suffering from leukaemia at present.
The wives of members of the defence forces have been making claims the effects of chemical exposure for some time. A mechanic, who previously worked with the Air Corps, noticed that a number of these women had experienced more than one miscarriages and in one particular case, a woman had eight consecutive miscarriages.
This suspicious trend was brought to the attention of the authorities, and an independent third party, former civil servant Christopher O’Toole, was appointed by the Minister for Defence in 2016, to investigate the allegations
Leader of Fianna Fáil Mr Micheál Martin said he believes a Commission of Investigation is now necessary. He stated “The situation is far from satisfactory because with his opening comments the report’s author is essentially saying he cannot fulfill the terms of reference. From the Government’s point of view they established this review, they must have known the terms of reference could not be fulfilled. It’s farcical.”
Although the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have advised that procedures into risk assessment need to be reviewed, a whistleblower has said that these steps are “too little, too late”, especially in the case of those who have lost family members or who have developed life-changing illnesses and injuries.
Allegations have been made stating that these deaths are due to organizational failure on the part of the Defence Forces which meant that Air Corps personnel were exposed to toxic chemicals. The Defence Forces are now facing Toxic Chemical Personal Injuries compensation actions by some former employees. The Defence Forces have released a statement stating, “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”