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Health Tips Following Patea Meatworks Fire

Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group
Media release #4, 6 February 2008 – 3.15pm

Health Tips Following Patea Meatworks Fire

Taranaki Medical Officer of Health Richard Hoskins says while there could be long-term problems associated with asbestos exposure, the risks to public health are very low following a one-off incident such at today’s fire at the derelict Patea meatworks.

“People may react to smoke and asbestos and dust with a cough, a sore throat and respiratory conditions like asthma,” he says.

“People in the affected area of Patea should avoid inhaling any dust or debris from the fire. They can reduce their exposure by staying indoors, keeping their windows and doors shut. And if they experience any issues they should see their own doctor or an emergency department.

“The Taranaki District Health Board will organise environmental testing to determine if any asbestos fibres have been spread – and if so, plan any remedial action.

“Meanwhile, all the public has to do is exercise common sense in reducing their exposure to any fire debris, keep in mind that the health risks are low from a one-off incident such as this, and seek medical advice if they have any concerns about their health,” says Dr Hoskins.

Says STDC Communications Manager Gerard Langford: “We are being very cautious in our approach to the health of residents, hence the evacuations, but we won’t know what the situation is in parts of Patea until an assessment has been completed.

“Even though homes have been evacuated, we don’t want to alarm people unnecessarily.

“We will keep residents fully informed about what is happening as the situation becomes clearer.”

About 300 people have been evacuated from Patea following a large fire that started at the disused Patea freezing works at 1am today (Wednesday).

A welfare centre has been set up at Hicks Park in Hawera. A number of people have made their own way to the centre, while 30 have travelled on a bus provided by the Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

Says South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop: “People should register at the welfare centre even if they are making their own arrangements, so that we have a record of where those people are.”

Those evacuating their homes are urged to take an overnight bag. Those needing bus transport to Hawera should report to the Patea Fire Station in Egmont St.

Civil Defence is advised that the Fire Service and health authorities will meet at 6pm today to decide whether it is safe for evacuated people to return to their homes.

A Civil Defence emergency has not (not) been declared but Civil Defence is keeping a watching brief.

State Highway 3 through the township is still open but motorists are advised to wind their windows up and exercise caution.

Anyone with inquries about the situation can call the Taranaki Emergency Management Office on 06 758 1110.


© Scoop Media

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