Whistleblower Claims Toxic Chemical Personal Injury Lead to Death of Air Corps Members’ Children

A protected disclosure claiming that children of Air Corps employees have died due to toxic chemical personal injury at Baldonnel Airfield has been made by whistleblower within the Defences Forces.

Earlier in 2017 a document was released to the public in which an employee of the Defence Forces claimed to have evidence of the “the untimely deaths of at least 20 adults…of which I believe died of illness related to unprotected chemical exposure”.

The Defence Forces whistleblower claims, with the permission of the children’s parents, that :

  • The death occurred 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’
  • One girl aged 15 died after suffering from Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer and her father is currently suffering from leukaemia

Additionally there have been reports in relation to the effects of chemical exposure on the wives of members of the defence forces. A former mechanic who previously worked with the Air Corps discovered that a number of these women had experienced multiple miscarriages and in one particular case, a woman had 8 miscarriages in succession. An independent third party was appointed by the Minister for Defence in 2016, to investigate the allegations made in relation to fertility issues.

Although the HSA have advised that procedures into risk assessment need to be monitored, a whistleblower has stated that these steps are “too little, too late”, particularly in the case of those who have lost family members or who have developed life-changing illnesses and disabilities.

There have been claims made that these deaths are due to  systematic failure on the part of the Defence Forces which meant that Air Corps personnel were exposed to toxic chemicals at Baldonnel. The Defence Forces are now facing legal action by some former employees. The Defence Forces have issued a statement which says, “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The Department of Defence has assigned former civil servant Christopher O’Toole with the duty of reviewing claims from three whistleblowers who alleged the health of many Air Corps staff may have been affected by exposure to chemicals used to clean and service aircraft.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he believes a Commission of Investigation is now necessary. He said “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.”