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2,4,5-T workers deserve dioxin testing and compo

19 October 2004

2,4,5-T workers deserve dioxin testing and compo: Kedgley

Green MP Sue Kedgley says all workers exposed to dioxin at the Ivon Watkins-Dow plant in New Plymouth should be offered blood tests to see if they have elevated levels of the chemical and be compensated for any resulting illnesses.

They should also be offered the same free medical and specialist treatment as that recently offered to Vietnam veterans affected by dioxin-based Agent Orange.

"OSH needs to take responsibility and offer all workers who were exposed to dioxin at the Paritutu 2,4,5-T plant the same blood serum testing offered by the Ministry of Health to selected nearby residents," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's Health Spokesperson.

"At the moment no one is taking responsibility for checking the workers' situation, even though they may have even higher dioxin levels in their blood than the residents or Vietnam veterans.

"If significant dioxin is found and the workers are, or become, sick as a likely result, they should be immediately offered ACC compensation for workplace injury, without having to go through a protracted process to formally prove it.

"We readily compensate sports players for injuries they develop in play, yet we make it almost impossibly difficult for workers exposed to dioxin in unsafe workplaces to receive compensation for long-term illnesses such as cancer.

"It is time the Government came to the aid of all New Zealand victims of dioxin poisoning, instead of constantly trying to sidestep the issue each time it comes up.

"The Government has a particular responsibility to compensate victims of dioxin poisoning that resulted from 2,4,5-T, as for many years it actively encouraged the herbicide's manufacture and gave a 50 per cent subsidy for its use," said Ms Kedgley.

ENDS

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