Resident: Roy Drake about Parititu

Investigate Magazine: 2000 Oct 
Roy Drake
50-year-old Roy Drake also lives close to the plant. In 1988 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He now finds it almost impossible to walk and is close to blind.
Being home-bound has meant that Drake has spent a lot of his time studying the effects of Dioxin, looking at international studies from around the world.

If you look at any major chemical plant anywhere in the world you will find massive rates of the same sorts of diseases. Here in New Plymouth, Down’s Syndrome and Spina Bifida are going through the roof. 

Our local school has 1200 kids and in 1999 they advertised for ten special needs teachers. I’ve found out in one Kindergarten alone there are four kids with cancer. 

People of New Plymouth are very illiterate to it all. That’s because there has been a huge cover up. Imagine the legal implications of this. The damages would run into billions.

Half of my friends are dead or have brain tumours.

Roy Drake
Not many people live to a ripe old age round here. 
They all die five or ten years short of their time. I am very angry and cannot understand why this has been ignored for such a long time.”
Drake says even his caregivers are riddled with disease. 
“I’ve had one who had sugar diabetes, two with strokes. The girl currently looking after me has cervical cancer.
For years we have been wearing clothes with dioxin on them. 
When we put a plate in the cupboard it is there, although you can’t see it. There’s no getting away from it around here.”

Drake thought the new Labour government, with its Green allies, would order a fresh enquiry following new American evidence on the damaging effects of dioxin. Instead, he says, they are happy to sweep the issue under the carpet. In June of this year Health Minister Annette King refused calls for a new enquiry, relying on conclusions found in 1986 – interestingly a report delivered under the previous Labour Government. 

“While I appreciate the ongoing concerns about the health of people living around New Plymouth, from the advice I have received from Ministry officials, I am satisfied that the monitoring and investigation carried out around IWD previously were adequate to show that significant exposure of the local population did not occur.”
King went on to say that a study of targeted groups who believe they have been exposed would be too expensive and difficult. 

“The residents present prior to that time may have moved and would need to be traced for testing to be meaningful,” she said. 

“A detailed analysis of the health data relating to the Taranaki region would be needed before any conclusions relating to the relative rates of cancer, birth defects, or other diseases such as MS, could be meaningfully compared. I understand such a process could be carried out but it is difficult to see what would be gained by doing so now.”

Andrew Gibbs
Not surprisingly, Andrew Gibbs disagrees. He says they are looking for recognition and help. He points that areas like Gisborne, where 2,4,5T was sprayed has almost identical ratios of motor neurone disease as Vietnam – isn’t it time we were at least prepared to look at the situation again?
Yet it seems the government is blinded by issues on the grounds of cost. The residents of New Plymouth say they have already paid a high enough price for dioxin contamination, including many lives. Their search for truth and a sympathetic ear goes on – but so far, few people are willing to listen.




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