Letters to the Editor, ‘Farmers need gas detection monitors after Spence slurry tragedy’

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Friday, September 28th, 2012
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Following the recent tragedy which befell the Spence family due, most likely, to slurry gases, I raised this serious matter at Newry and Mourne District Agricultural committee meeting on Friday.

Attempting to address the danger of slurry gases and prevent fatalities is extremely difficult as there are a number of gases potentially present, i.e. hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide and ammonia.

However, hydrogen sulphide is the most difficult as it is a chemical asphyxiant, similar to carbon monoxide and cyanide. The complexity of the problem with this gas is exaggerated by the fact it can only be smelt at low concentration levels, therefore as concentration levels rise and there is no longer an odour, only a few breaths can kill very quickly.

If farmers and agricultural contractors could avail of detection monitors for this particular gas to install at appropriate locations lives could possibly be saved. With this in mind I have asked our committee to write to DARD to establish if such monitors are available and also, even at this late stage, as the Farm Modernisation Programme has already been launched, ask that financial help towards the purchase of such equipment be made.

This could be included in the Programme’s Tranche 3 under Enhanced Occupational Safety. It would be hoped that such tragedies, which have claimed the lives of too many of our farmers, could be significantly reduced.

Declan McAteer
SDLP Councillor and Agricultural and Fisheries Spokesperson


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