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Go-ahead on health concerns around chemical plant

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health

13 February 2001 Media Statement

Minister gives go-ahead to investigate health concerns around chemical plant

Health Minister Annette King is giving the go-ahead for blood tests to be carried out to measure dioxin levels among a selection of residents who lived near the former Ivon Watkins Dow plant in New Plymouth at the time it was manufacturing 245-T.

The blood test survey will be part of a two-pronged response to the health concerns of local residents following claims that the plant manufactured Agent Orange and dumped toxic chemicals in a residential area during the 1960s.

The Ministry is also supporting the Taranaki District Health Board's Medical Officer of Health in his investigation into health concerns of local residents.

"The allegations made about the plant are very serious and my first concern as Minister of Health is to investigate community anxiety about illness in the area," said Health Minister Annette King. "This includes looking at whether local people have been exposed to unusual levels of dioxin and, if so, what the health risks may be,"

The Ministry of Health will be seeking tenders within four to six weeks for a provider to conduct the blood test survey, which is expected to involve up to 100 people.

Mrs King said she expected to see this work carried out as speedily as possible.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health and Taranaki District Health Board will send representatives to the public meeting on Wednesday (February 14) to listen to community concerns and views.


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