Tuesday 22 May 2007

Scandal of spread of human waste

IN THE WEEKS since over 130 tonnes of partially untreated human waste was spread over farmland at Ballygarrett, many of the residents living close to the site have been struck down with unexplained illnesses prompting them to wonder just how serious is exposure to the substance. Emma Gibson and her fiancĂ©, Darren McLoughlin, live just a few yards from the land in question and say their lives have been made unbearable in recent weeks due to the noxious smell which has engulfed their home. The smell, however, is not their primary concern, but their health, as Ms. Gibson is six months pregnant with their first child and has been in very bad health over the past few weeks. “We have quite a few concerns aside from the terrible smell. The stress and worry of this situation is immense as well as the physical symptoms. I have had very bad pains lately and have been very sick. I have had to visit the
doctor numerous times this week alone and I am extremely worried to think this may be putting our child at risk,” she said. The couple cannot even open their windows due to the strength of the smell. Ms. Gibson also expressed her dismay that the sludge was left on the land even after complaints were made by residents to Wexford County Council. “This substance is already in the soil now and it should have been removed when concerns were first raised. It is an absolute disgrace that nobody is coming back to the residents. We have received no apology. Wexford County Council has received an apology from Dublin City Council but we need more than that. We need a guarantee that this will not happen again”. Breda Cahill lives across the road from the field and says that it is very coincidental that many local residents have been struck down with illness at this time. “There have been high levels of conjunctivitis among residents as well as a lot of vomiting and diarrhoea. I have had my children off sick from school for the second time in two weeks and they are hardly ever ill. These health issues are way more worrying than any smell”. According to Ms. Cahill, the people of Ballygarrett feel they have been fobbed off by Wexford County Council. “We are extremely concerned about the stock pile of sludge still on the farm in question as well as how this may affect our water supply. We need to know if there is a real risk there. There is also the issue of the nearby wind farm which could carry the fumes of this sludge further a field”. Ms. Cahill also described how the sludge has infringed on the quality of life of the public. “We realise that ordinary slurry will smell to a certain extent. I am from a farming background and am well aware that there may be times when there will be certain smells in the country, but this is just unbelievable. Sometimes we can’t even eat with the smell. It is like going into a filthy toilet to have dinner. It is unacceptable.”
Deborah Coleman © Gorey Echo

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