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'Another Study’ not the answer for residents

10 March 2005

‘Yet Another Study’ not the answer for dioxin contaminated residents

The Government must move quickly to assist those affected by dioxin contamination, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Blood test results released today that show that residents who lived near the former Ivon Watkins Dow plant near New Plymouth are likely to have dioxin levels 4 to 6 times higher than the average New Zealand population.

“This is a serious public health concern,” Ms Kedgley says

“The latest blood serum results confirm that dioxin emissions from the Dow Chemical plant have put the health of residents living nearby at risk - significantly increasing their risk of cancer and other illnesses.

“It is particularly shocking that one person was found to have levels that are up to 15 times higher than the average population - especially when you consider that these levels would have been at least three times higher at the time of exposure in the early 70’s, she said.

“In the light of the latest results, the government must stop procrastinating and provide medical and other assistance to residents who lived near to the Ivon Watkins Dow plant and who are therefore likely to have elevated levels of dioxin in their blood, “she said.

“It must offer free annual medical check-ups and medical treatment to all affected residents, and offer free blood tests to concerned residents who lived near the plant during the peak exposure period.”

While a proposed epidemiological study would be useful, it must not be used as an excuse to further delay the provision of proper medical treatment and compensation to affected residents, she said.

“We have ample evidence now that the environment and therefore the health of people living near the plant at the time of peak exposure in the seventies was highly contaminated.

Ms Kedgley also called on the government to make the Dow corporation liable for the damage they have caused to residents and the environment in New Plymouth.

“The taxpayer shouldn’t be picking up the bill, it should be the company that caused the pollution. That’s a basic principle of polluter pays. Public health officials had assured the community that recompense would be sought from Dow AgroSciences if it was proven there was a problem. Well, it has been proven and now the government must take steps to get compensation,” she said.

ENDS

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