independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

We've been prisoners in our own homes for days, say families beside blaze plant

Ashling McCoy with her 2 year old son Jack

A MASSIVE fire which destroyed a Dublin waste facility has forced families living nearby to remain housebound for days.

Parents had to stay indoors with their children until well after the weekend to avoid inhaling thick fumes from the inferno.

Dublin Fire Brigade was still in attendance yesterday as ongoing efforts were made to extinguish the fire. Rubbish, either packed in bales or in loose mounds, was piled high outside the gutted facility.

Ashling McCoy (41) has remained indoors for days with her 21-month-old son Jack because they live close to the Oxigen recycling plant in Ballymount.

"On Saturday, we couldn't even go out with him (Jack). It was horrendous. Sunday evening was the worst. Whatever way the wind was blowing Sunday evening, it was just horrendous," Ms McCoy said.

MASKS

"There was no washing done, there were no kids out, and there were no windows open."

Ms McCoy said: "Stephen (my husband) drove up in that direction (towards the plant) and even the police were all wearing masks."

Residents were not given enough information from the authorities, she said.

"All we knew was that there was smoke and you had to put on our TV to see what was happening," added Ms McCoy, who has three children.

Her 22-year-old son Craig suffered a reaction to the smoke. "Craig would be very sensitive. His eyes and all would water."

Her next-door neighbour, Patricia Weldon (50), was concerned for her 83-year-old mother, Philomena, who lives with her. "I just kept all the windows closed. I couldn't leave my dogs out. I was afraid of my life. If a dog doesn't get out, he goes mental," Ms Weldon said.

And for one mother, it brought back horrific memories of nearly 12 years ago when she lost two of her children in an apartment fire.

Tracey Moran (nee Maher) panicked when she realised a blaze had broken out close to her home in Walkinstown.

"I had a panic attack. This is my first day outside since the fire broke out," Ms Moran said. "I have two kids. My daughter is 15. She lost her twin brother and elder sister in a fire."

The tragedy – which claimed the lives of Kelsey (6) and Clayton (3) in April 2002 – was caused by an electrical fault.

In the early hours of last Friday, when she realised the Oxigen facility was ablaze, she had an anxiety attack. Her husband Mark Moran, who manages Bruxelles pub off Grafton Street, said "you couldn't see across the road" over the weekend as the smoke was so thick.

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte, in whose Dublin South West constituency the plant is located, described the situation as appalling.

"It's an appalling incident, especially for the residents in the vicinity. I'm looking forward to the Garda investigation and the other investigation in terms of what was the cause," the Communications Minister said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said its inspectors are at the site and are assessing the situation.

A spokeswoman said that while the fumes caused poorer quality air in localised areas, no breaches of air quality standards were recorded. "The quality wasn't great. It certainly was poorer. But it wasn't in breach of air quality readings," she told the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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