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Greens Welcome Dioxin Tests As First Positive Step

Green MP Sue Kedgley has welcomed approval for blood tests on 100 residents living near the former Ivon Watkins Dow plant in New Plymouth to measure their dioxin levels as a positive first step in assessing whether residents had been exposed to high levels of dioxin contamination.

However Ms Kedgley said she was not convinced blood testing was the most effective way of testing residents for dioxin, and additonal measures may be required.

She believed a much wider, independent inquiry still needed to be carried out to establish the veracity of allegations from a former Ivon Watkins Dow employee, that thousands of drums of chemicals, including the defoliant 245T, had been dumped in areas of New Plymouth where residents now lived.

"This inquiry would need to establish where the alleged dump sites were, and to test whether the environment in New Plymouth, and in particular the streams, rivers, parks, kaimoana and properties adjacent to the plant, were contaminated by dioxins," she said.

If any contaminated sites are found, remediation measures to clean up the sites were also urgently needed, she said.

Ms Kedgley said she believed the incinerator at the Dow AgroSciences factory should be closed down, and other means of disposing of chemicals which do not produce dioxins should be found.

Ms Kedgley called on the Taranaki District Council to review the resource consent which allows the factory to emit dioxins emissions at 38 times the safety level that has been set in Europe, and tbe government to take urgent action to introduce a dioxin environmental standard to control dioxin emissions.

"We need to remember that dioxins are one of the most dangerous chemicals known. The chemical 245-T, manufactured at the former Ivon Watkins Dow site, is known to contain a dioxin which causes cancer, and is linked to birth defects and reproductive failure."

Sue Kedgley 04 470 6728, 025 270 9088 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090

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