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Backdown a relief for Paritutu but flaws remain

Government Backdown a relief for the People of Paritutu but flaws remain

Tariana Turia; Health Spokesperson, Maori Party

Wednesday 1 November 2006

The Health Minister’s announcement today that the Government will approach the World Health Organisation for an independent expert to review ESR’s report on dioxin exposure in Paritutu has been welcomed by local Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru, Tariana Turia.

“I am pleased to be able to go to Taranaki tomorrow, with some good news for the people of Paritutu” said Mrs Turia.

“The last week has been typical of the messy mish-mash that the Ministry of Health has created with the trail of mis-information and mistakes associated with the 2005 Paritutu Blood Serum Dioxin Study done by ESR”.

“The key point is that the data is actually flawed” said Mrs Turia. "ESR were meant to verify the years of residence of the study participants to ensure that the data recorded was in fact accurate. I understand this was not done. The resulting anomalies in the data meant that the high levels of dioxin contamination from the Ivon Watkins-Dow factory on the community of Paritutu were obscured”.

“But then on top of that massive error, the Ministry made another flawed presumption that a person who had links to senior Ministry of Health officials, and who only last year gave the 2005 Paritutu study virtually a clean bill of health, would be appropriate to review the report from an ‘independent perspective’.

“I have been told the community viewed his appointment with scepticism, as yet another example of a cover-up” said Mrs Turia. “I believe it would be preferable if Professor Allan Smith was not included in the independent evaluation, it should instead be evaluation experts who are completely removed from this study, who are challenged to lead a new direction”.

Former residents and the current community of Paritutu have advised my office that they were keen to have input into the selection of an independent reviewer.

“It is reassuring that in the period since I first asked the Minister of Health questions in the House last Thursday, and with the additional pressure brought to bear by MP Sue Kedgley and TV3; the Minister has had to rethink his original position”.

“The Government must stop trying to create ‘spin’ and instead be brave enough to expose their reports, errors and all, to a fresh set of eyes”.

"But before yet another external review is conducted, the flaws in the data first need to be corrected - or the contamination will remain obscured, and so too the path to justice for the community of Paritutu".

"The methodology could also be strengthened by including in the study those women and children resident in the community during the peak exposure years, their subsequent children, and former workers in the Paritutu area outside the Ivon Watkins-Dow Plant".

“In addition to the shabby methodology of former reports" said Mrs Turia, "study participants were also not informed of their own personal exposure levels and so have been unable to assess their health status and future accordingly. Against all of these factors, it is good, at last, to see the Minister has come to his senses, in asking the World Health Organisation for some help”.

“It is vital that the credibility and integrity of the experts involved in the independent review is beyond reproach” concluded Mrs Turia.


ENDS

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