Woman forced out of home by toxic spill claims remedial work causing more damage

Sharon Keane secures temporary injunction preventing further construction work

Last year, Sharon Keane and her two children had to move out of their family home at 22 Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4 following a spillage of a hazardous chemical called Xylene that was being stored on the property of her neighbours. Photograph: Collins Courts

Last year, Sharon Keane and her two children had to move out of their family home at 22 Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4 following a spillage of a hazardous chemical called Xylene that was being stored on the property of her neighbours. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A woman who had to abandon her Dublin 4 home due to a toxic chemical spill at a neighbour’s property has claimed before the High Court that repair works are causing further damage to her house.

Last year, Sharon Keane and her two children had to move out of their family home at 22 Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4 following a spillage of a hazardous chemical called Xylene that was being stored on the property of her neighbours Thomas and Bronwyn Dunne.

At the High Court on Friday Ms Keane secured a temporary injunction from Mr Justice Max Barrett preventing building, remedial and construction works being carried out of the Dunnes property, at 20 Grand Canal Street.

The works are to cease pending an inspection and survey of the property by Ms Keane’s consulting engineers as to the extent of the excavations being carried by the defendants and their contractors, the court ordered.

The order was sought due to Ms Keane’s concerns that the works currently being conducted on the Dunne’s property is causing further damage to the plaintiff’s home.

Her counsel Gary McCarthy SC, instructed by Bunbury Darcy Solicitors, said that the strong fumes and odour that severely affected their health from the xylene spillage in September 2020 resulted in Ms Keane and her children having to leave their home.

Her home adjoins the Dunne’s property, and the Xylene contamination has resulted in “considerable upheaval” and distress to the family.

She was advised to evacuate her home, due to the risk to their health, after investigations were carried out by bodies including the Dublin Fire Brigade, the EPA and experts hired by Ms Keane, counsel said.

The family have had to spent the last year living in rented accommodation.

It was “a mystery” to his client why the Xylene, which is used as a solvent, and as a paint thinner, was being stored in canisters by the Dunnes in their basement, counsel added.

Counsel said that in June significant remedial works, including the removal of subsoil, to repair the damage commenced on the Dunnes property.

Ms Keane became concerned about this as there has been no co-ordinated response agreed among the parties in regards what are extensive remedial works.

in recent days counsel said Ms Keane concerned were heightened after a large crack appeared in the hallway of her property.

The bad smell and noxious fumes which were present last year after the contamination was first detected, had also returned.

Attempts were made to contact the Dunnes and their insurance company, seeking to have the works halted, it is claimed.

‘Astonishing’

Workers on the Dunnes property and the Dunne’s insurance company have been made aware of the situation.

The workers had said they would stop if directed to by their superiors, but had denied the works had resulted in damage to Ms Keane’s home, counsel said.

However there has been no response from the Dunnes, and the works have continued, counsel said.

Ms Dunne is now worried that the ongoing works could result in further damage to her property, counsel said.

In light of her concerns, it was “astonishing” that works on the Dunne’s property had not ceased, counsel said adding they had no alternative other than come to court.

Counsel said that after a year being out of the property it was very much in his client’s interests that the matter be dealt with, as soon as possible.

As a result of the recent developments and a failure to address his client’s concerns counsel said his client was seeking an injunction from the court halting works until her experts can carry out an inspection of the works.

At the High Court on Friday evening Mr Justice Barrett said he was happy to grant the order sought.

The injunction was granted on an ex-parte basis. The judge made the matter returnable to a date later this month.