Journey for environmental justice begins for people poisoned daily

March 4, 2005 

Today the Hohou te Rongo – People Poisoned Daily Speaking Tour will be holding the first of five public meetings to address the issue of communities impacted by toxic chemicals.

Greenpeace, together with the Sawmill Workers Against Poisons (SWAP), Vietnam Veterans of Aotearoa, Paritutu Dioxin Investigation Action Group and Te Waka Kai Ora (Maori organics group) have organised the tour.

“Whakatane is one of many communities that have felt first hand the impacts from industries dumping of toxic chemicals,” said Joe Harawira, chairman of SWAP. “From the use of dioxin-laced Pentachlorophenol (PCP) during the timber treatment process, 1)Sawmiller and timber workers were exposed to very risky levels of dioxin contaminated Pentachlorophenol (PCP) during the normal course of their work.  PCP was used to treat pine and other kinds of timber at sawmills around the country from the 1950s until the 1980s when its use was finally banned. PCPs are highly toxic and cause a range of health issues to the workers who were exposed to the chemicals. To date, the Government has not acknowledged the suffering caused to them or their families. Contaminated sites still pose an ongoing risk to present and future generations.  to the issues of poisoning of our waterways and dumping of contaminated soil into various sites around both Whakatane and New Zealand.”

The tour’s focus will be on dioxin poisoning. Urgent action is needed to stop the dumping of lethal toxic waste, produced daily by industries throughout the country. Dioxins are banned by international laws, but industries are still pumping them into our air, water and soil.

“Tonight is an opportunity for the local community to hear first hand stories from different groups whose lives have been affected by poisons and what both the Government and industry should be doing to address these serious issues,” said Harawira.

The groups will then workshop with local residents about the issues that affect them and discuss solutions at both a regional and a national level.

“For too long successive governments have allowed the rights of companies to supersede our rights to a clean and healthy environment.  It’s time for the current Government to stand up and make these companies accountable for the lives they have destroyed through the use of their toxic chemicals,” said Mere Takoko, Greenpeace toxics campaigner.

The many groups involved with tour will sign onto the Hohou te Rongo declaration which will then be tabled to key MPs in Wellington on the 10th March.


Notes to the Editor:

The tour:

  • Whakatane – PUBLIC MEETING – March 4, 6pm – Pupuaruhe Marae – Patuwai Rd.
  • Rotorua – PUBLIC MEETING – March 5, 6pm – Te Aomarama Hall- Ohinemutu
  • New Plymouth -MARCH to protest against DOWs refusal to set up a nationwide fund compensating people affected by dioxin poisoning – March 6th, 12pm – Ocean View Parade
  • Wanganui – PUBLIC MEETING – March 7, 6pm – Memorial Hall – Watt St
  • – SCHOOL VISIT Turakina Maori Girls College, Marton March 7, 12.30pm
  • Wellington – PUBLIC MEETING – March 8, 6pm – Turnbull House – 11 Bowen St
Press release | March 4, 2005 | greenpeace.org | NEWS-2005-M03-04-001
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References

↑ 1. Sawmiller and timber workers were exposed to very risky levels of dioxin contaminated Pentachlorophenol (PCP) during the normal course of their work.  PCP was used to treat pine and other kinds of timber at sawmills around the country from the 1950s until the 1980s when its use was finally banned. PCPs are highly toxic and cause a range of health issues to the workers who were exposed to the chemicals. To date, the Government has not acknowledged the suffering caused to them or their families. Contaminated sites still pose an ongoing risk to present and future generations.

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