Asbestos found on hospital site
REPORT CONFIRMS RESIDENTS' FEARS
ASBESTOS has been found at a construction site on the grounds of Wexford General Hospital.
The discovery of the potentially hazardous material was confirmed in a report compiled by an independent engineering consultancy firm that carried out a series of tests at the site of the new Farnogue Healthcare Centre.
The report stated that ' isolated pieces of asbestos containing material' had been unearthed during a survey of the land carried out in May of this year.
These findings were revealed to a number of concerned residents of the adjoining Glenbrook housing estate, as the council furnished them with a non-technical copy of the report.
One of the distressed Glenbrook residents, Sue Clancy, says that she was 'alarmed' when the asbestos discovery came to light but was not surprised as she and other neighbours had suspected that this might have been the case.
Since February of this year she has been forced to seek medical attention for her children, who suffer from asthma, but she says their condition has exacerbated considerably in the past few months.
' They have suffered choking fits,' she said.
It is her contention that the disturbance of asbestos fibres in the soil may be causing serious air borne illnesses for people living in the affected area.
Her home is situated within a close proximity of the location where the asbestos and other potentially harmful substances were uncovered.
' What I see when I look out my window is a threat to me and my family,' said Sue.
The report states that following the discovery of the material, it was immediately removed from the site.
However, the area was afterwards marked an ' area of containment' and it was recommended that no one enter it so as not to disturb any fibres which may be found in the soil.
But according to Sue as part of the construction of the new Farnogue Healthcare Centre, construction workers were driving heavy duty machinery through the area long before the discovery was made and continue to do so even now.
Aside from the asbestos found at the site, the report also details the discovery of other ' issues of potential concern'.
It states that petrochemical odours were noted during the excavation of some trial pits in the affected area.
It also refers to another investigation carried out by a different consultancy firm in May, a month before this investigation took place.
During the May tests a deposit of glass bottles were discovered. This latest report says that ' although the bottles in themselves are not considered a cause for concern, what they may have contained when they were disposed of is of potential concern as any contents could have spilled out and contaminated the surrounding ground'.
A statement released by Wexford County Council last week revealed that following an initial inspection carried out in January of this year on foot of a complaint received, the HSE concurred that there was 'no evidence of clinical waste to be found on the HSE lands'.
However, the Council proceeded to instruct the HSE to conduct further 'intrusive and nonintrusive investigations of the area on the southern boundary of the construction site'.
The statement also indicated that following these tests in May, there is still a need for further investigations due to a number of 'data gaps that need to be addressed'.
Investigations at the site are said to be 'ongoing'.