Belfast Telegraph

Dad and son lucky to be alive following farm slurry accident in Northern Ireland

By Leona O'Neill

A father and son are recovering in Altnagelvin Hospital after being overcome by slurry fumes at a shed on their farm in Claudy.

The men were mixing hen slurry at the Hazlett family farm on Ballyhanedin Road when they were overcome by the fumes shortly before 4pm on Saturday.

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, three ambulances and fire crews attended the scene.

The two were airlifted to Altnagelvin, where their conditions are described as "stable".

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said the farming community in the area was "shocked but relieved that we are not coping with two fatalities".

"They were mixing the hen slurry and they were overcome with the fumes," he said.

"From what I hear from the neighbours, the son was mixing the slurry in the shed and was overcome with the fumes and the father went in to pull him out. Luckily enough, the emergency services were on the scene very quickly.

"The farming community is totally shocked and stunned by the whole thing.

"There is a lot of information and details these last few years about these type of incidents, so it is a shock that it has happened again.

"We are very lucky that we are not looking at two deaths today.

"We are just so thankful that the emergency services were here so quickly, especially with the helicopter to take them to Altnagelvin.

"That was a lifesaver."

John McPoland of the NI Ambulance Service said: "Ambulance Service got the call at 3.45pm following reports of two men involved in a slurry incident on the Ballyhanedin Road in Claudy.

"Two accident and emergency vehicles, one ambulance officer and the charity air ambulance were also tasked to the scene.

"After initial assessment and treatment at the scene, two male patients were taken to Altnagelvin Hospital."

The PSNI said: "Two men, one aged in his 40s and the other in his 70s, were taken to hospital for treatment.

"The Health and Safety Executive has been informed."

Slurry is a mixture of manure and water, used by farmers as a natural fertiliser for their crops. Waste material from animals is collected beneath sheds and barns during the winter when cattle are kept indoors, to be spread during the summer months.

Farmers break up and mix the slurry, normally in a tank, so that it can be spread on the farm land.

It is at the mixing stage that the odourless, invisible gases - methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide produced by the bacteria during the decomposition of slurry - become dangerous.

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