Thursday 26 April 2018

Water ban imposed on more than 1,000 households after children break out in rashes is down to 'mechanical issue'

Water network being flushed out following discovery of elevated levels of chlorine due to 'mechanical issue'

Aneta Chacala and her daughter Sienna (1) pictured in their Co. Meath home where the water supply was subject to above normal levels of chlorine. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Aneta Chacala and her daughter Sienna (1) pictured in their Co. Meath home where the water supply was subject to above normal levels of chlorine. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Amy Molloy, Luke Byrne and Kevin Doyle

A mother who forked out nearly €200 for doctors appointments over the last week now fears her children are sick because of the water in their area.

Dipti Pandya lives in Kilcloon, Co Meath where a water ban has been imposed due to elevated chlorine levels.

More than 1,000 households in the royal county were told yesterday to avoid drinking or washing in the water following reports a number of young children have been breaking out in bad rashes.

Ms Pandya said her water "smells like bleach" and all members of her family have been suffering gastrointestinal issues lately.

The mother-of-four also said one of her son's has a rash on his face.

"We are washing with bottled water now, you never think water could be affected like this," Ms Pandya told Independent.ie.

"Everyone is very upset about it. My children had to miss school because they were sick. I didn't know what it was, I just thought it was a bug, but now I fear it may be the water.

"The water has been smelling really strongly of chlorine for the last 10 days."

The townlands affected by the 'no drink and no wash' warning include: Kilcloon, Moygaddy, Killeany, Kilgraigue, Harristown, Brownstown, Ballynare, Butlerstown, Staffordstown, Brownrath, Blackhall Little, Waynestown, Harlockstown, Ballymacoll.

Irish Water has said the utility investigated the issue immediately the ussye when a high level of chlorine was found in the water during testing.

A mechanical issue was behind the problem and the system is being flushed.

The ban remains n place and bottle water is available from the Kilcloon Church and Kilcloon School today. Manned water tankers are also in place at the Kilcloon Church and Kilcloon School.

Jana Lunden (42), from Staffordstown, near Dunboyne, is also among one of the many affected households.

She fears that elevated chlorine levels in the tap water supply could affect her unborn baby.

Ms Lunden, who is 20-weeks pregnant with her second child, said she had noticed over the weekend that her tap water had a strong smell. 

"When I had a bath, it was the same feeling you get in a highly chlorinated swimming pool. My eyes were sore and my nose was running," she said. 

She was shocked when the utility revealed the water had elevated levels of chlorine, making it unsafe.

"I’m 20-weeks pregnant and I’m taking a bath every night,” she explained. “I’m going to book an emergency scan. I spoke to my doctor who explained there can be a risk with birth defects," she said.

Aneta Chacala (40), from Harlockstown said she is worried about the effect of the chlorine on her children Sienna (1), Luciana (3) and Juliana (5).  

"We live a very healthy lifestyle and we try to keep chemicals out,” she said. “We spend so much to live healthy and then this happens with the water,” she said.

"There should be a system in place that automatically warns when there is a problem like this. It has happened before, where there has been a strong smell from the water," she added. 

Irish Water told residents to avoid using water due to elevated chlorine levels.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne told Independent.ie that a “full explanation” is needed from Irish Water quickly.

He said the townlands affected by the ‘no drink and no wash’ warning include: Kilcloon, Moygaddy, Killeany, Kilgraigue, Harristown, Brownstown, Ballynare, Butlerstown, Staffordstown, Brownrath, Blackhall Little, Waynestown, Harlockstown, Ballymacoll in Co Meath.

"It is not yet clear as to how elevated chlorine levels occurred. We need an urgent explanation for the illnesses and injuries already suffered by local residents in the Kilcloon area,” Mr Byrne said.

“I'm shocked that Irish Water are only now responding to this crisis, having been alerted to the issue on Monday by a local resident.

“I understand from local people that young children have been getting very sick and there are some reports of children getting bad rashes. This is a very serious public health issue, that demands urgent attention and explanation.”

But it reiterated that customers must not drink the water, use it for food preparation or wash in the water until further notice.

“Customers are advised to draw down water from attic/storage tank, customers should flush toilets or run bathroom taps intermittently, as tanks re-fill chlorine levels in storage tank will return to normal,” a spokesperson said.

The HSE advises that the water from this supply is unsafe to:

  • Consume for drinking;
  • Use in connection with food preparation; and
  • Use for personal hygiene, including brushing teeth and bathing.
  • All prepared drinks, foods, ice cubes and baby foods which contain water from the network should be discarded.

In the interest of Public Health, it is advised that all users (i.e. domestic and commercial) on the affected scheme should not use tap water until further notice except for:

  • Flushing of toilets; and
  • Flushing of internal house plumbing systems.

Bottled water is available at Kilcloon Church and Kilcloon School.

For more information and additional advice, Irish Water can be contacted at 1850 278 278.

Have you or your children been affected by any of the water issues reported in this article and wish to share your experience? Email digital@independent.ie

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