Independent MEP Marian Harkin has called for immediate action to be taken with regard to the health and safety of residents in the Gleann Riada estate in Longford town. Last week, the Sligo based representative visited the estate which was the scene of two gas explosions, one on March 15th last and another at the beginning of this month, believed to be due to the build up of dangerous amounts of methane and carbon monoxide.
Speaking to the Leader on Monday afternoon, Ms Harkin said: “The problems in this estate are simply unbelievable. It is built on a flood plain, sewage pipes are leaking and poisonous and explosive gas is seeping into family homes.”
The North West MEP said she was shocked with what she saw encountered at house number 28 in particular, where the sitting room had exploded with doors having been blown off and chunks of masonry scattered around the room.
“It was a miracle that no one was in the room at the time, because they would almost certainly not have survived the force of the blast.”
A number of other houses in the estate have recorded high carbon monoxide and methane gas levels.
Ms Harkin continued: “Carbon monoxide is poisonous and methane is highly explosive, and yet families are living in these houses. It’s a nightmare for many of the residents.”
Ms Harkin confirmed that she will bring the issue in front of the European Commission (EC) in Brussels.
“In an effort to assist residents I am contacting the EC in regard to the issue of the septic tanks and the disposal of sewage. At the moment it seems that this sewage may not be properly treated and might well be the primary cause of the poisonous gases and offensive odours.”
Ireland is currently before the European Court on this matter and Minister Phil Hogan has committed to dealing with the issue on a risk basis. Ms Harkin believes that the safety of the residents of Gleann Riada should be Mr Hogan’s top priority.
“In my opinion, this situation should be top of his ‘risk list’ because it is a danger not only to the environment but also to the health, safety and indeed life of the residents,” she concluded.