Posted: May 20th, 2017
Several former servicemen are prepared to make a claim against the Defence Forces due to damages to their and their families’ health due to prolonged unprotected exposure at their base.
As a result of an inspection made by the Health Service Authority (HSA) last October, the working conditions experienced by servicemen at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation. Furthermore, a number of claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel for unprotected chemical exposure at the facility.
Authorities are investigating the claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of chemical dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks associated with continued exposure. The more recent claims highlight the serious health damage that several servicemen claim to have sustained from working at the base. The report was initially published by an online newspaper, the Journal.
According to site, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to the chemical-which is widely known to be carcinogenic and mutagenic-at the Baldonnel base. He further claims that, as a result, at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.
The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that a higher proportion than average of their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. The claim alleges that five children have died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with debilitating illnesses.
The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get improve health and safety conditions at the camp for a number of years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”
There have been several unsuccessful attempts made to obtain comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces. However Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó’Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.