Flintshire factory health fears inquiry underway

Reporter:

Helen Davies

AN INVESTIGATION into health fears surrounding a cement factory has taken a significant step forward.

Experts researching concerns over the Hanson Cement works in Padeswood met with community representatives yesterday.

Andrew Jones, director of public health for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who chairs the investigating team, said the purpose of the meeting was to understand and listen to the concerns of the community.

However, community representatives said they were “sceptical” as to how far the investigation would go.

The response team is being organised by Public Health Wales and includes representatives from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Environment Agency Wales, Flintshire Council and the Health Protection Agency.

Thirty responses from the public have been received covering health and environmental concerns ranging from cancer to the possible pollution of milk from local cows.

Mr Jones said the meeting in Mold was part of an “open approach” by Public Health Wales to the investigation.

He said: “The concerns raised at this meeting will shape the steps we need to take.”

Penyffordd community councillor Colin Bithell told the meeting how important he felt the research was.

He said: “For our generation and also the generations coming behind us we need to have a study of the health risks. We need someone to look at it properly and give us their expert view.”

However, some community leaders said they were worried the investigation would not go far enough.

John Thornton, chairman of Buckley Town Council’s finance committee, said: “There is scepticism about the commitment of agencies in relation to this matter.”

Leader of Flintshire Council leader Arnold Woolley, added: “There is a lot of scepticism around this table due to delays in investigating this issue so far.”

Prior to the meeting Mr Jones said the research team would make sure they “understand and discuss the concerns in the context of everyday life”.

He said: “Cancer is unfortunately quite a common condition in North Wales with 25 per cent of people dying from it.”

He added: “I am open in relation to how long this might take, I would envisage it will take several months.

“I think there will be further meetings, but the first part is to understand the concerns.”

As the Leader has previously reported, Hanson Cement says the site does not pose a risk and has welcomed the investigation as an opportunity to resolve the issue.

See full story in the Leader

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