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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 16 July, 2019
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'Vile smell' in Shannon causing concern about health among residents

A number of people have reported having headaches and feeling nauseous since last weekend.

Image: smell image via Shutterstock

RESIDENTS IN SHANNON are concerned about a strong “sulphuric” smell that they say has been making people feel ill over the last number of days.

A number of people have reported feeling nauseous and having severe headaches since last Friday and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now investigating the cause of the odour.

There are several chemical plants and water waste plants in the industrial estates as well as sewage plants in the area and Shannon resident Sarah Curran told TheJournal.ie that people living in the area believe it’s linked to one or more of these plants.

“A lot of people are suffering from nausea, headaches etc, I’ve had headaches since last week and it always seems to be around the same time,” she said. “It’s always the same kind of smell, a sulphur kind of smell and it seems to be thicker at night. I first smelled it on Saturday and I nearly got sick, it was horrible.”

Curran is not the only person living in the area who has been ill, with a number of residents posting messages on Facebook about the smell over the last few days:

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Health concerns

Local councillor Sean McLoughlin told TheJournal.ie that this is a problem that his constituents have been dealing with for years and the “smell became famous” in 2002.

An EPA investigation revealed that a pharmaceutical company was the source of the smell at the time and in 2003 it took action against the firm but McLoughlin said that the smell has returned numerous times since and people are worried about the impact it may be having on their health.

“There is a suspicion that there is a high rate of cancer here and people are worried for their health in general because you have this vile smell when you step outside your door and it’s very unpleasant,” he said. “We want the EPA to come in and do a 24 hour monitor of the air because people don’t know what they’re breathing in.”

Data from the National Cancer Registry (NCRI) does not point to a cancer cluster in the Shannon area and a local GP told TheJournal.ie that they have not noticed any particular increase in rates over the last number of years. However an NCRI spokesperson said it would require a complex study of the area to determine this.

Lack of information

Last year, there was a spill at a chemical plant in Shannon, resulting in a gas emission. Seven workers from the plant were hospitalised and locals were told to stay inside their homes.

Sarah Curran said people living in the area have still never been given an explanation for what exactly happened.

“We often see yellow clouds in the sky, purple clouds of smoke over the industrial estate and we’re told that it’s harmless but that doesn’t sound right to me,” Curran said.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Clare County Council said that it is liasing with the EPA about the odour in the Shannon area.

A spokesperson for the EPA also said inspectors are “aware of on-going odour issues in that area”.

The spokesperson said they planned to conduct an inspection yesterday afternoon and “based on the findings of the inspection, all appropriate enforcement actions will be taken should an EPA-licensed facility be found to be the cause”.

It is expected that the results of the inspection will be available in two weeks but residents are calling on the agency to send representatives to a public meeting now to explain the odour and address their concerns.

Related: Seven people hospitalised after chemical incident in Co Clare>

Read: EPA fracking study reveals potential impact on groundwater and earthquakes>

Read: EPA plays down reports over lead water piping>

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