HSE to bear costs of radon gas remedial works at Killarney unit

The HSE will pay the costs for remedial works at a mental health unit after it was found to have radon levels greater than the amount recommended for residential facilities.

Two points within the 40 bed Deer Lodge Mental Health Unit in Killarney had radon levels, two-and-a-half time the recommended safety level.

A radon barrier installed prior to the unit’s opening in July broke down.

This had been installed by a third party however, the HSE says it will pay €11,000 for the remedial works.

Radon’s a naturally occurring radioactive gas and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 250 cases of lung cancer annually can be linked to it.

You can’t smell, see or taste it and it can only be measured with special detectors.

Monitoring revealed radon levels at Deer Lodge Mental Health Unit in Killarney were above those recommended for residential facilities.

Over the past fortnight, the venting of existing ducting through the installation of electric fans has helped reduce the build up of radon gas under the building.

The HSE says while it will bear the costs, the amount will come from central funds and not from the mental health budget.

Cllr John Joe Culloty has said taxpayers should not have to fund these remedial works.

Cormac Williams of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association says pregnant employees who request a transfer out of Deer Lodge due to concerns over radon gas should be accommodated.

The HSE says it would be happy to accommodate staff with concerns but says it’s confident that there is no danger to staff or residents.

It says the levels, although raised, were not at dangerous levels.