Just 15 percent of the Gleann Riada estate in Longford town was inspected by local authority officials prior to completion, a meeting of the development’s residents’ association was told last Wednesday night.
It was also confirmed during the meeting that one resident was evacuated from her home last month because dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphate were detected by Health Service Executive (HSE) officials from a gas monitor that was installed at her house. The Leader was also shown a document by a medical professional who has advised that a second family evacuate their home at Gleann Riada as soon as possible.
Residents told local area representatives that only a percentage of the 80 homes in the estate were currently being monitored for escalating gas levels, levels that have now been determined a major contributing factor to an explosion in the estate last March that endangered the lives of two residents at the time.
“During the building boom only 15 percent of any development was required to be examined by the local authority,” Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) explained, under fire to provide angry residents with a concrete solution to their woes. “It was light touch regulation at the time and whether that 15 percent examination included underground services or infrastructure, I do not know; however I do know this, Longford Co Council was the only successful local authority to engage with the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and to secure the successful demolition of the apartment block [demolished two weeks ago]. Longford County Council has endeavoured to make contact with the developer, but this has been unsuccessful, so the bond will be called in shortly and subsequently spent on rectifying underground services which are the main problems with regard to the build up of gas in Gleann Riada.”
Cllr Padraig Loughrey (FF) then said that the local authority had engaged the HSE to monitor gas levels at Gleann Riada and highlighted the fact that “no one particular body” was prepared to take responsibility for the development.
“Reassurances were given to Longford Co Council’s executive at the time Gleann Riada was built, that a development could in fact be built there; the local authority took the experts’ advice at its word. However, Longford Co Council does have a duty of care to residents here and is endeavouring to carry out that duty of care.”
“The council is not engaging with us and this situation is getting more and more stressful for all of us,” one resident said. Another angry home-owner stated, “One woman received notification that she was to leave her house immediately because of toxic gas levels”.
“The smells in the estate are appalling and we see people being taken off in ambulances all the time,” he claimed. “The fundamental problem here is that, Gleann Riada was built on a flood plain in the first instance and who signed off on that?” another questioned.
“Ah, at this stage, I think it would be cheaper for Longford Co Council to clear everybody’s mortgage and bulldoze the place; let the swans back on it,” another resident conceded.
Cllr Nolan then stated that she knew one lady living in Gleann Riada who “checks on her children three or four times a night to ensure that they are still breathing.”
It was then decided to organise a meeting with the HSE in an effort by the residents to establish the facts in relation to gas levels at the estate, and a meeting with the executive of Longford Co Council’s planning department was also discussed.