Belfast Telegraph

Derry City Council asks Belfast Telegraph to pinpoint exact site of Lettershandoney toxic dump

By Donna Deeney

Derry City Council has sought help from the Belfast Telegraph to find the exact location of a site where vast quantities of chemical waste was dumped 40 years ago.

The site on the Ward Road is one of 10 that surround Lettershandoney village where residents have raised concerns about the apparent disproportionate number of people who have contracted various neurological conditions over the years including motor neurone disease (MND), multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson's disease.

The 10 sites near the village include four at Highmoor Road, two at Gorticross Road, and one each at Tirbracken Road, Fawney Road, Ervey Road, as well as the unknown one on Ward Road the council asked this reporter to pinpoint, having visited it with locals.

These were among 29 sites between Londonderry and Limavady where chemical waste was dumped by the British Oxygen Company (BOC) when no waste disposal licence was required.

Since Health probe ordered over Lettershandoney residents' fear that chemical waste is cause of crippling illnesses, the council's chief environmental health officer contacted the newspaper seeking clarification of the Ward Road dump location.

He also confirmed that an investigation into the waste dumped would begin next week.

A council spokeswoman said tarry waste would have been disposed of at the site at Tirbracken Road between 1968 and 1972, at a time when no waste disposal licence was required.

She added: "In view of concerns raised over the past number of weeks by residents living close to the site about possible health impacts of tarry waste, Derry City Council has contacted a number of relevant agencies including the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Public Health Agency to determine if they have concerns in relation to possible risks to health and the wider environment."

Brenda Maguire from the MS Society added: "We're supportive of an investigation into this – there are known chemicals and environmental toxins that can increase someone's risk of certain diseases, but until an investigation is carried out it's nigh-on impossible to say if this waste has caused a high prevalence of neurological conditions in the area.

"We don't exactly know what causes MS – but it's likely to be a complex interaction between genes and environmental factors.

"Chemicals have been investigated as possible environmental factors but there's no conclusive evidence."

Health probe ordered over Lettershandoney residents' fear that chemical waste is cause of crippling illnesses

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