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Ring Road construction poses health risk to nursing home residents



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Noise exceeding acceptable decibel levels and poor air quality during the construction of the N6 Galway City Ring Road would present a health hazard and force a Castlegar nursing home to close.

At the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the ring road this week, experts raised concerns that such conditions could affect residents of the Caiseal Geal Nursing Home on the School Road – adjacent to the location of deep excavations which would involve rock breaking and blasting.

The ring road project team estimate that this part of the project would take 18 months, but legal and expert representatives of the facility’s owner, predicted that this was underestimated and would take much longer.

Michael O’Donnell, barrister for the nursing home, said he was shocked that the facility was not mentioned or considered in an Environmental Impact Study. He asked if the developers were even aware of the 42-bed facility, which had been rebuilt to meet HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) requirements in 2015.

Had the owners known the route of the ring road was going to be so close to them, they may not have gone ahead with the rebuild as the proposed roadworks would now “extremely and adversely” affect their services.

It was not only a care home, but a step-down facility for both respite and palliative care for very vulnerable and high dependency patients.

Work was planned to go ahead on the road project on three sides of the property and on one side, would only be a distance of 12 metres away from a courtyard to the north of the facility which was used by the residents on a daily basis.

However, Dr Imelda Shanahan, a specialist in air quality, noise and vibration, told the hearing that the residents would not be able to use that courtyard at all between April and September when the deep excavations, blasting, rock breaking and transport of dug soil would take place.

She said that the dust, noise and vibrations from the site so close to the nursing home would deem it inoperable and create a health hazard to the patients.

The blasting — estimated at five times per week — can only take place in the early spring, through to September to protect the wintering birds in the vicinity.

Dr Shanahan said during her inspection of the site in February, two windows looking out to the north were open, but this would not be at all possible due to the level of blasting so close to the facility.

Work is also due to take place on realigning the main gas line as well as sewer pipes.

She estimated the deep digging would create about 377,000 tonnes of soil and would take at least 15 months to transport, and not nine months as they were being told.

This would also involve a huge volume of traffic, especially HGVs transporting this soil from earth excavation — between 179 or 215 movements a week, depending on the length of the working week.

She carried out an air quality and noise impact assessment taking into consideration the sensitivity of the long-stay care home, which also provided respite and palliative care.

Exposure to contaminants by “these vulnerable groups” would be a health hazard. The main pollutants would be dust fibres, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide as well as fungal spores and bacteria from the large-scale excavation of earth.

These pollutants would cause a “serious respiratory problem, particularly for older people” and would be unavoidable due to the close proximity of the work to the care home. She further explained that the proximity would mean there would be an uncontrolled dispersion process and again pointed out that one side of the facility was only 12 metres away, which was far too close to be safe. Dust, in particular, couldn’t be controlled within a 25-metre range, she added.

The nursing home is currently located in a quiet, tranquil setting but noise from the blasting, rock breaking and processing activities, would be well above the acceptable World Health Organisation guidelines for community noise recommendations of 30 decibels indoors and 45 decibels outdoor.

The site clearance noises could reach 71 decibels in the building and 77 decibels in the courtyard; the rock extraction would create 79 and 85 decibels respectively in the same areas and HGV transport would cause decibels of 69 and 70 respectively.

“In my professional opinion, this would be intolerable for residents as the nursing home is uniquely close to the site, especially the courtyard used by residents.

“Their air quality would also be impacted. It would be intolerable to operate the nursing home during construction as permissible noise levels will also be exceeded,” she concluded.

Mr O’Donnell further added that HIQA requirements couldn’t be met in those circumstances and that the facility would be closed down.

Again, he said it was shocking that no analysis had been done in regard to the proximity of the nursing home to the propose site works at Castlegar.

This is just one report from last week’s coverage of the Galway City Ring Road oral hearing. To stay up to date each week, see the Connacht Tribune or Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues



Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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