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Roscommon farmer kept 'enough cyanide to wipe out town'

The organisers displayed some of the hazardous farm waste they collected at the awareness event Image copyright Roscommon County Council
Image caption The organisers displayed some of the hazardous farm waste they collected at the awareness event last weekend

An Irish farmer had stored enough of the deadly substance cyanide to "kill most of the population" of his town, council workers have said.

Roscommon County Council said he bought the poison to kill rabbits and had kept it in his shed for the past 45 years.

The farmer handed over 4kg of cyanide to environmental experts in response to a hazardous farm waste collection.

A chemical expert on site at Saturday's event said it was "enough to wipe out most of the population of Roscommon".

'Vietnam'

The council's environmental education officer, Suzanne Dempsey, told the Roscommon Herald that farmers using cyanide to kill rabbits "would have been a common practice" in the past.

"The farmer had it in his shed for the past 45 years and had previously sought advice on how to dispose of it safely," she told the newspaper.

She said the man had kept the material "well secured" in containers but added: "It was good to get these chemicals into safe hands."

"We also had a quantity of the herbicide 2,4,5-T, one of the two ingredients of Agent Orange which was used in the Vietnam War," Ms Dempsey said.

Image copyright Roscommon County Council
Image caption The Roscommon farm waste collection was among seven such events throughout the Republic of Ireland

The waste collection was led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the involvement of Roscommon County Council and Teagasc (the Irish agriculture and food development authority).

Tim Hyde from Teagasc said the collections "provide an opportunity for farmers to dispose of materials that may be harmful to humans and animals".

He said Saturday's event was the " biggest turnout for the seven collection days held nationwide so far this year".

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