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Public health warning as boy (9) left critically ill after toxic waste dumped at bonfire

Boy fighting for life after hazardous material dumped at Belfast site

By Jonny Bell

Police are urging parents to monitor their children after hazardous material was dumped on a Belfast bonfire which its thought left a nine-year-old boy in hospital critically ill.

A young boy is fighting for his life in hospital after coming into contact with the chemicals.

Emergency services are investigating the dumping of the substance after a concerned parent contacted police about the material after their young son was taken to hospital. He is in intensive care in a critical condition.

On Wednesday evening, police issued a public health warning after consultation with health officials.

Belfast police press conference as young boy fights for life in hospital after toxic material found dumped at bonfire....

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Superintendent Andrea McMullan said: “A young boy is currently receiving treatment in hospital after it is believed he came into contact with this hazardous substance at the site.

“We are concerned that a number of other young people in the area could have potentially come into contact with this substance and are asking parents/guardians whose children may have visited this bonfire site to closely monitor them.

“The symptoms, which may include redness of the eyes and sore throats coughing and breathing difficulties can take up to 36 hours to become visible and I would encourage anyone who has concerns about their children to seek medical advice immediately. Any clothing or skin that may have been exposed should be washed to remove residual chemicals that may be left on them.”

Police said officers and the Fire Service attended the bonfire site in Glenwood Street on Wednesday. It has been reported that a number drums were dumped at the site.

It's thought they may contain industrial cleaner for patios and driveways.

It is not known if the boy came into direct contact with the material, however, he is being treated in hospital for respiratory problems and police are following a line of enquiry that the chemicals are the cause.

Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston said he was deeply shocked at the incident.

"The police, Fire Service and council have secured the site and the material is being taken away. Obviously our thoughts are with the boy and his family, but this is very concerning," he said.

"I have worked with the council on removing hazardous materials - including tyres - which have been illegally dumped on bonfire sites in the past.

"This is shocking but sadly an example of the many hazardous materials dumped on bonfires which should be disposed of legally and properly. It's irresponsible.

"I will be urging the council and the authorities to identify those responsible."

DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey also condemned those behind the dumping.

He said, “As we approach the summer young people are beginning to gather material at bonfire sites. There is absolutely no excuse however for anyone to use a bonfire site as a dumping ground for hazardous materials or to dispose of tyres.

"In this case a child has been hospitalised because of whatever substances were dumped at this site. I would appeal for anyone who witnessed the material being left at the site to pass on any information to the police. 

"My thoughts are with the child and hope they make a full and speedy recovery.“

Inspector Laura Kelly added: “We received a call from a member of the public earlier today, who was concerned that their young son, who is currently receiving treatment in hospital, may have come into contact with some sort of substance at the bonfire site.

"We immediately began an investigation into this incident and are working with our Fire and Rescue Service colleagues and partner agencies to identify the source of these containers and have them safely removed.”

“I would appeal to anyone who may have any information about the material which has been left at this site to contact police on 101 quoting reference number 296 of 24 May 2017. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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