May 16, 2005
Two more people who worked at the old Ivon Watkins Dow plant in New Plymouth have had their ACC claims accepted.
ACC says there is medical evidence of a link between dioxin exposure at the old chemical plant and current health problems suffered by the claimants.
Residents who lived near the plant now want the government to accept all dioxin related claims.
The corporation has now accepted claims from four of the former chemical factory workers, however it has turned down a further eight claims.
Dioxin is a highly toxic by-product of making the herbicide 245 T, which was manufactured in the plant until the late 1980s.
Neil Herdson, a union delegate at the chemical plant 25 years ago, says the company used to tell the workers there were no health problems from working with dioxin.
But he says ACC’s decision to accept more claims has changed that.
“At this late stage there is now four people who have been accepted by ACC, which shows of course there was exposure,” says Herdson.
Herdson, an electrical contractor at the plant, was one of an earlier group of workers who had his ACC claim accepted
Now Herdson says all those who worked at the plant should receive ACC.
“Any ex worker that has got ill health should be looked at sympathetically and should be looked after,” says Herdson.
However ACC Medical Advisor Kevin Morris says it’s making its decisions on the balance of probabilities.
“We have two questions to ask. Firstly could this condition be caused by exposure to dioxin. And secondly if it could have been caused by dioxin in this particular claimant or this particular individual, has it been caused by exposure to dioxin,” says Morris.
But Andrew Gibbs, a dioxin researcher at the Dioxin Investigation Network which represents people in the suburb of Paritutu who lived next to the plant, says nearby residents and not only the former workers should have ACC help.
“For decades these people have been told they weren’t exposed and there were no health effects. Now we know there are, the government really has to give them the benefit of the doubt,” says Gibbs.
ACC says it has had 22 people from the New Plymouth area lodge claims around dioxin and says it is prepared to look at any further case on its merits.
May 16, 2005 | One News | NEWS-2005-M03-16-001