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May Day Alert for PCP Exposure

May Day Alert for PCP Exposure

Waiariki MP commends SWAP in staying hard to

cause of dioxin exposure

Thursday 1 May 2008

May Day, International Workers Day, is a very appropriate time to acknowledge over two decades of dedicated advocacy from the group, Sawmill Workers Against Poison, who have struggled to protect the rights of former and current timber workers says Waiariki MP, Te Ururoa Flavell.

“May Day is the time to honour workers and to acknowledge the bitter struggles and sufferings of the past” said Flavell.

“And so we think of sawmill workers who have suffered a range of unexplained health problems, the 40% increase in the risk of death from cancer for PCP-exposed workers, and the long-term impacts on their families” said Flavell.

“The research from Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research vindicates the tireless efforts of Joe Harawira, Gwenda Paul and other SWAP advocates in bringing public attention to the health outcomes from former timber workers exposed to PCP (pentachlorophenol)” said Te Ururoa Flavell.

“SWAP suggests that more than 600 former sawmills used the same chemicals, chemicals which have been proven to have adverse effects on our lands, our rivers, the wellbeing of our people” said Mr Flavell. “And what SWAP also revealed was that 85% of the workers from the Whakatane site are Maori”.

“This study makes it blatantly apparent that the SWAP members had much higher excess serum dioxin levels - so high in fact that they were double those observed in former long-term residents of Paritutu” said Flavell.

“The morbidity survey revealed statistically significant associations between exposure levels and risk of tuberculosis, pleurisy or pneumonia, thyroid disorders and a range of neuro-psychological effects” said Mr Flavell.

“The Massey study points out that about 10% of the workforce – who had high exposures and had worked in the industry for over ten years - have high levels of dioxin in their blood and a number of physical and neuro-psychological health problems”.

“We hope this latest report will bring fresh urgency to the cases for timber workers to talk to their GP or ask for help in health monitoring of making an ACC claim” said Mr Flavell.

“And of course we will be awaiting announcements for compensation from the Government, from the manufacturers of the poison and the people who have exploited the labour of these workers”.

“We will also be eager to see the response of key stakeholders such as Ministry of Environment, OSH, ACC, Whakatane District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, Carter Holt Harvey and the manufacturers of the chemicals to judge the integrity of their May Day response”.


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