Residents want estate evacuated after gas explosion
PEOPLE living in an estate of unsafe houses want a chief fire officer to inspect them so he can order an evacuation.
The families in the Gleann Riada estate at Ballyminion outside Longford town have been told by HSE doctors their properties are unsafe to live in.
They have also been told not to light fires in them because of sewer gases. Two explosions have already occurred in the houses.
However, Longford County Council said as the estate was privately owned, it did not have the authority to deal with the problem.
"The council has advised residents on more than one occasion to have their houses assessed and essential repairs carried out," a statement said.
Doctors met residents at the estate to discuss the build up of carbon monoxide and methane gases from sewers in houses at the development.
The HSE has been monitoring gas levels at Gleann Riada since mid-March, when an explosion blew the front window from a house.
Occupants at the partly NAMA-owned development of about 80 houses, also say seeping sewage gases are responsible for headaches and nausea.
HSE national director of health protection Dr Kevin Kelleher, who met residents, said all remaining houses on the estate were unsafe to live in unless urgent professional assessments and repairs were carried out.
The HSE did not have the power to evacuate the remaining 79 houses in the estate.
However, Dr Kelleher said there was clear evidence of the effect of carbon monoxide, methane and hydrosulfite in the area.
He said he had been told by residents they were suffering from symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
"They need to get those assessments done rapidly and get the remedial work done. If that doesn't happen, then the houses are not safe to live in," he said.
In the meantime, he asked the residents to install carbon monoxide alarms, keep their homes ventilated, refrain from smoking or lighting fires and to ensure the water traps in their toilets are functioning.
Engineer John McNamara, who represents over 30 homeowners at the estate, has asked Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan and the HSE to evacuate the development.
"I'm actually quite horrified. The doctors there admitted that the houses are dangerous to live in unless essential remedial works are carried out. Gases are still getting into the houses and the sewage system is clearly acknowledged as not to be functioning," he said.
"They could not be happy with keeping people in properties that are clearly dangerous."