Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Houses built on dump

Paul Melia in the Irish Indo' writes of how a mother blames family's illnesses on poisons left under home by developer
NEW council houses have been built on a site which was used for illegal dumping.
And samples taken from the back garden of one house show that traces of dangerous chemicals remain in the soil.
Since moving in last year Mary Joyce claims her children - Ellen (9), Bernard (20), James (8) and John (16) - have been constantly sick.
She is worried that dangerous chemicals could be in her back garden, and wants a full investigation to be carried out.
"Since I came up here it's nothing but sore throats and sickness. The colour of my kids is divine white," she said.
Her two youngest children, she says, had good health in their old home in Ballymun flats at Balcurris Lane. Now they suffer from stomach aches, diarrhoea and continuous sores.
Residents believe more could be present throughout the site.
Yesterday Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said he believed the site was a dump that had been covered over and called for a full public inquiry.
The houses on Balbutcher Lane, off the St Margaret's Road in north Dublin, were built as part of the €1bn Ballymun regeneration project, were completed last year.
More than 90 homes are in the development, which were built at a cost of €15m.
A sample taken from Mary Joyce's house shows that traces of phenols and thiocyanate are present in the soil.
These substances can be found in landfills and waste water. They are used in the production of herbicides and insecticides and in industrial processes.
Exposure can cause respiratory irritation, headaches and other health difficulties.
One forensic scientist said the phenols and thiocyanate could be 'witnesses' to serious contamination as they could move throughout a site and might be found in greater quantities elsewhere.
They suggested a full site investigation be carried out to ensure that residents health was not at risk.
Yesterday Ballymun Regeneration Ltd - an arm of Dublin City Council charged with redeveloping the north Dublin suburb - confirmed that the site on which the houses were built was used as an illegal dump.
Abandoned cars had to be removed before building work commenced but the council rejected allegations that there was a health risk to residents.
"Ballymun Regeneration is satisfied that there is no contamination on the site of Carton Court that could cause any risk to health," a statement said.
"The site in question was never a landfill site although it had been used for fly tipping and abandoned cars had to be removed before any development took place."
It said a specialist company had been commissioned to carry out site investigations and these showed no evidence of contamination.
It added that testing of one soil sample could not be considered representative of the whole area, and that it was satisfied there was no risk to human health.
But yesterday Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said he believed that waste discovered on the site had been covered over, and that the site had been a dump which was simply covered over.
He called for a series of independent tests and a full public inquiry.

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