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Community must be involved in dioxin review

26 October 2006
Community must be involved in dioxin review

It is imperative that the Paritutu community is consulted over the appointment of an independent expert to review findings by forensic accountant John Leonard that a Ministry of Health report into dioxin contamination in New Plymouth contained significant errors and masked the true extent of the problem, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The local community have been continually sidelined on this issue, and the Ministry of Health has a track record of downplaying and falsely reassuring residents about the health effects of dioxin and the extent of contamination," Ms Kedgley says.

"If residents are to have any confidence in the process going forward from the revelations this week, it is absolutely essential that they are consulted about the independent expert who is selected to undertake this peer review of the study, and are kept informed of the review's progress and the timeframe for a final decision.

"It is also imperative that the independent expert is given access to the original data.

"If Ministry officials actually got out of their Wellington offices and fronted up to the local community, they would understand the extent of the physical and emotional devastation this tragic saga has caused. They would also realise that they need to exercise leadership on the issue and accept responsibility for their role in allowing the extensive contamination to take place, and for denying, downplaying and covering it up for all these years," Ms Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley will be in New Plymouth next Thursday to meet with local groups and address a public meeting on the dioxin contamination issue.

The Green Party has called for a six-point programme of response to the dioxin problem: a formal apology, legal action against the parent Dow Chemical company, a national register of current and former Paritutu residents with symptoms of dioxin poisoning, free healthcare and serum test for people on the register (and their children), an inter-generational study of the health effects independent of the Ministry of Health, and accident compensation to all former Dow employees who suffer health effects as a consequence of their work.

ENDS

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