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'Rampant cancer cluster' fears spark inquiry call
Irish Independent - 26-08-03

HEALTH Minister Micheal Martin was yesterday urged to carry out a new investigation into claims of "rampant" cancer linked to industrial pollution.

The fears centre in west Limerick after major flaws were revealed in The National Cancer Register.

A new system of recording cancer cases is to be introduced following revelations that Ireland lacks a special coding system available elsewhere and concerns that the figures are not accurate.

The NCR is to be updated in coming months using a new "geodirectory" system which allows more precise information on the level of cancer in specific districts and comparisons to be made with neighbouring areas.

The move follows intense concern in the Foynes/Askeaton area of west Limerick over a spate of new animal deaths from cancer and claims that more than 70 people have contracted cancer in a small area as a result of industrial pollution.

Cappagh Farm Action Group yesterday hit out at the cancer data used in a 5m probe, claiming it was four and a half years out of date and even then did not include the large number of cancer cases in their area up to 1999. The group said the number of cases has soared over the past two and a half years.

However, the new system of collecting cancer data will now be used in the Askeaton area over the next year to determine the precise level of cases.

The Cappagh group said it now wanted a meeting with the minister following the agreement to bring in the new measuring system.

Spokesman Pat Geoghegan said: "It is not good enough that people in our area and in the country as a whole never made it on to the register since it was set up 12 years ago."

The farmers are adamant that industrial pollution in the Shannon Estuary is responsible for a spate of cancer cases in animals and humans.

"Hundreds of cattle and horses died on a handful of farms in the Cappagh/Askeaton area of Co Limerick in the 1990s, but the report failed to discover why."

Treacy Hogan,Environment Correspondent

Irish Independent

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