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'Today I am passing you a list of 56 verified deaths of serving and former colleagues. Average age: 48'

The whistleblower claims the number of deaths has risen sharply.

Air Corp and Navy members of the Captains Guard of Honour at the GPO
Air Corp and Navy members of the Captains Guard of Honour at the GPO
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

A NEW PROTECTED disclosure has been sent to Defence Minister Paul Kehoe detailing a number of “verified deaths” of those allegedly affected by the Air Corps chemical scandal.

It’s the contention of a number of Air Corps members, who have since retired, that the effects of the chemicals they handled as part of their work contributed to dozens of workers at the Baldonnel Airfield becoming ill.

In a protected disclosure made by one of the workers last year, it has also been alleged that the partners of male members of the force suffered serious fertility issues and a number of miscarriages. Other children, according to the previous protected disclosure, are living with life-changing illnesses and, in some cases, have died.

But a new disclosure, submitted last week, claims that the number of untimely deaths from the scandal has “grown exponentially”.

The former Defence Forces members are currently suing the state for damages.

For the last two years, one whistleblower has been collecting information about the premature deaths of his colleagues in the Air Force. He accesses death records and is able to see the cause of death of the Air Corps member. The name, rank, cause of death and age of the person is then collated.

It has previously been alleged that the Defence Forces failed to protect workers from exposure to harmful chemicals which have been proven to cause various cancers and autoimmune diseases.

The new protected disclosure, seen by TheJournal.ie, reads: “Today I am passing you a list of 56 verified deaths of serving and former colleagues with an average age of death of 48. For my research I arbitrarily started from 1 January 1980 and only counted the deaths of persons who died at or before the State Pension age of 66. The list contains persons who died from medical reasons or suicide.

I might add that the number of suicides is truly shocking.

“In addition to the attached list I have a further 20 adult male deaths that I need to verify. Most relate to the 1980s and are difficult to fully trace while some occurred overseas. Unfortunately, through my research I also have some evidence that the levels of offspring deaths, stillbirths & spousal deaths show a cause for concern and need to be investigated by competent authorities and included in any statutory investigation.”

A 2016 inspection of Baldonnel Airfield by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) identified a number of shortcomings at Baldonnel with corrective actions then taken by the Defence Forces in relation to how it handles chemicals.

According to the HSA report seen by TheJournal.ie, the Air Corps was warned it could face prosecution if it did not “comply with advice and relevant legal requirements” about how hazardous substances were managed, among other safety matters.

engine shop Air Corps, Engine Shop, Non Destructive Testing Workshop at Baldonnel Source: Garreth MacNamee/TheJournal.ie

TheJournal.ie earlier this year obtained a detailed list of chemicals which were purchased for use by the Air Corps. These include the highly toxic Ardrox 666 and Ardrox 670.

Other chemicals which have been used at Baldonnel include:

  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Dichloromethane
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Dichloromethane

All these chemicals have been proven to cause serious damage to humans after long-term exposure. They are used in degreasing agents as well as other solvents used at Baldonnel.

A number of ex Air Corps members are currently suing the State over the claims.

Late last year, TheJournal.ie reported that the cause of death, the age at death and the rank the Air Corps members held. The protected disclosure which has been submitted has the full names as well as other verifiable details of the deceased. We are not naming them.

The format for the following list is the rank of the deceased, their initials, cause of death recorded on their death certificates and finally their age of death.

  • Airman. Died by hanging. Aged 48.
  • Apprentice. Cardiac arrhythmia. Aged 52.
  • Sergeant. Severe chronic head trauma from self-inflicted gunshot wound. Aged 42.
  • Commandant. Coronary artery atherosclerosis. Aged 60.
  • Flight Sergeant. Metastatic esophageal carcinoma. Aged 53.
  • Airman. Heart failure after suffering haemorrhagic gastritis. Aged 47.
  • Airman. Death by suicide. Aged 53.
  • Brigadier General. Bowel ischaemia. Aged 74.
  • Airman. Acute alcohol intoxication. Aged 49.
  • Sergeant. Pulmonary aspiration. Aged 50.
  • Corporal. Drowning. Open verdict recorded. Aged 41.
  • Airman. Bacterial peritonitis. Previous kidney failure/cardiac problems. Aged 55.
  • Sergeant. Metastatic renal failure. Aged 66.
  • Airman. Pancreatic cancer. Aged 54.
  • Corporal. Self inflicted gunshot wound to head. Aged 26.
  • Airman. Liver abscess/pulmonary embolus. Previous Crohn’s disease. Aged 32.
  • Airman. Acute cardiac arrhythmia. Aged 47.
  • Captain. Neuroendocrine tumour of pancreas. Aged 53.
  • Airman. Acute cardiac event. Aged 50.
  • Sergeant. Metastases carcinoma to liver and lung. Aged 48.
  • Flight Sergeant. Ischaemic Heart Disease. Aged 54.
  • Airman. Cardiogenic shock. Aged 49.

ac Some of the men who have died or gotten ill. Source: Garreth MacNamee/TheJournal.ie

  • Rank unknown. Ischaemic Heart Disease. Aged 64.
  • Corporal. Asphyxia. Aged 38.
  • Sergeant. Sudden cardiac death. Aged 56.
  • Flight Sergeant. Pneumonia – 3 days. Aged 41.
  • Apprentice. Gunshot wound to the head. Aged 44.
  • Lieutenant Colonel. Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Aged 64.
  • Corporal. Metastatic Melanoma. Aged 46.
  • Corporal. Myocardial Ischaemia. Aged 50.
  • Sergeant. Liver failure. Aged 52.
  • Flight Quartermaster Sergeant. Metastatic Carcinoma of Salivary Gland. Aged 60.
  • Airman. Ischaemic Heart Disease. Aged 39.
  • Sergeant. Gioblastoma Multiforme. Aged 39.
  • Airman. Multiple Injuries – self-inflicted train collision. Schizophrenia. Aged 39.
  • Sergeant. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Aged 66.
  • Airman. Gunshot to the head. Aged 22.
  • Airman. Atherosclerotic Coronary Artery Disease. Aged 46.
  • Airman. Pulmonary Embolism. Aged 51.
  • Airman. Gunshot wound to head. Aged 54.
  • Civilian. Parietal lobe glioblastoma. Aged 56.
  • Airman. Cause of death unknown. Aged 52.
  • Commandant. Cerebral Metastases, Salivary Gland Carcinoma. Aged 57.
  • Corporal. Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer. Aged 45.
  • Commandant. Metastatic Small Cell Lung Cancer. Aged 54.

The Department of Defence, in response to every query submitted to it regarding the chemical scandal, has said: “The State Claims Agency is currently managing six claims taken by former and current members of the Air Corps against the Minister for Defence for personal injuries alleging exposure to chemical and toxic substances whilst working in the Air Corps in Baldonnel in the period 1991 to 2006. Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Some of our coverage of the Air Corps Chemical Scandal to date:

The other whistleblowers: Looking at the human cost of the Air Corps chemical scandal >

‘In one case, a retired member’s wife had eight miscarriages in succession’ >

Two men suing State over Air Corps chemical exposure say they have developed cancer >

Air Corps controversy: Minister says reports on toxicity at Baldonnel ‘can’t be found’ >

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