A LOCAL authority has told concerned Wicklow residents that chemicals set to be destroyed near their homes are “toxic, highly inflammable and in certain circumstances can be lethal”, locals were told this week.
Hydrogen cyanide liquid and residue in seven cylinders is set to be burnt off on an army firing range in Kilbride, Co Wicklow, under controversial council plans.
Officials from pest control company Rentokil, which is destroying the hydrogen cyanide, held a meeting with local representatives this week to allay fears over the burning of the chemical batches.
“The plan hasn’t yet been finalised and the risk assessment is still ongoing,” said a Rentokil spokesman.
A South Dublin County Council letter to locals, obtained by the Irish Examiner, said the liquid had not been used by the company since 2006.
The chemical, a fumigant, was traditionally used to kill pests such as rats and rabbits.
Locals fear the chemical could pollute nearby water sources, harm plants, animals or even humans, and are mounting a campaign to stop its destruction in their area.
The council hoped to coordinate the burning off of the chemical next week, but it emerged yesterday that several hundred sandbags were slashed on the army site which has forced the delay, the council said.
No other site was suitable to destroy the chemicals, locals were told.
Soil and water samples are to be tested before and after the chemical burning, to check for residue.
“The burnt HCN will mostly convert to water vapour, carbon dioxide and nitrogen which are all components of normal air and any residual HCN or small amounts of other compounds such as nitrogen oxides will be miniscule,” residents were told.
There would not be harmful effects to children, sheep or local berries, the circular said.
Emergency precautions will be taken to transport the cylinders from a Rentokil site in Ballymount, Dublin to Wicklow.
Locals plan to mount a 24-hour watch of Kilbride’s firing range to prevent the operation going ahead.
“We are getting advice from solicitors on getting an injunction against this,” said Sinn Féin councillor, John Brady.
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