Review of dioxin report not due for a fortnight

Oct 26, 2006

The Ministry of Health expects a review of a report on dioxin levels in New Plymouth residents who lived near a chemical plant to take at least two weeks.

A report carried out last year by Environmental Science and Research found people who had lived near the Ivon Watkins-Dow factory between 1962 and 1987 had elevated levels of dioxin in their blood.

The factory, in the suburb of Paritutu, made the herbicide 245T during that time.

Dioxin, which can cause birth defects, diabetes, endometriosis and some rare cancers, was a by-product of manufacturing.

In an independent study commissioned by TV3, forensic accountant John Leonard found the report contained significant errors and masked the true extent of the problem.

A Ministry of Health official told NZPA that ESR had been given a copy of Mr Leonard’s findings, and would be using them in its peer review of the original report.

The original report was peer reviewed by internationally renowned scientists, and the new peer review would be carried out by another set of top scientists.

ESR environmental health general manager, Fiona Thompson-Carter, told National Radio the review would be completed as quickly as possible; hopefully within two weeks.

However NZPA understands the ministry expected the review could take longer than that, with two weeks being the minimum length of time.

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said it was imperative that the scientists reviewing the original ESR report were given the original data from Paritutu.

The Ministry of Health had sidelined locals over the dioxin issue, and had a track record of downplaying the health effects of the contamination, she said.

“If ministry officials actually got out of their Wellington offices and fronted up to the local community, they would understand the extent of the physical and emotional devastation this tragic saga has caused,” Ms Kedgley said.

NZPA | Oct 26, 2006 | | NEWS-2006-M10-26-002


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