Fury over Parkwood
by Louise Vennells
Angry residents voiced fury when the North Sheffield Primary
Care Trust (NPCT) still refused to recommend closure of Parkwood
toxic waste dump, despite people living nearer the site reporting
higher levels of illness.
Residents living near the landfill, where up to ten per cent of
waste dumped is classified as toxic, were asked to fill in questionnaires
detailing any symptoms of ill health.
Symptoms, including bronchitis, asthma, eye and skin irritations,
anxiety and depression, were reported in much higher levels close
to the site. Residents living within 1km of the dump were almost
twice as likely to report bronchitis as in other areas. A study
of existing data found no significant rise in cancer or birth defects.
The NPCT, who conducted the survey, claimed further investigation
was needed to ensure the rise in self-reported sickness was not
caused by heightened awareness in the community.
Dr Jeremy Wight, Director of Public Health for the NPCT, explained
the phenomenon to a well-attended public meeting on 12th November.
“If someone in this area wakes up coughing
every morning, it’s possible they will immediately associate
that with the site. In other parts of the city the same cough
might seem normal.”
Dr Wight said the NPCT was also investigating possible causes of
illnesses, including other landfill sites and industry in the area.
The NPCT had not ruled out the possibility of a link with the dump.
Brian Wilson, resident and member of the Survey steering group set
up to investigate possible dangers of living near the site, said
the NPCT needed to change their approach.
“If they believed what people are saying about
their own health – and why they can’t do that I just
don’t understand – the evidence for the site to be
closed would be overwhelming.”
Mr Wilson accused health chiefs of “gambling with people’s
One former Shirecliffe resident, who believes asthma in her family
stems from exposure to the dump, said: “If there was an unexploded
bomb nearby we would all be evacuated. To us this site is a time
bomb and we don’t want it near our homes.”
Hubert Gordon, of Batworth Drive, said doctors had been unable
to explain his ill health over the past two years. He said: “Even
walking to the meeting tonight, I could smell the stench from the
One health worker said she had noticed an increase in people dying
of cancer. Residents read out unofficial surveys totting up high
numbers of people who had died of the disease in their streets.
Dr Wight warned of the dangers of analysing individual cases, as
cancer is one of the major killers in the UK.
Worried residents asked why the questionnaire, sent out to 3,600
randomly selected people, had not been distributed to everyone in
the neighbourhood. Dr Wight was booed when he said investigating
every household in the area would be too expensive and impractical.
He said: “We have to concentrate on finding out why people
living next to a landfill site are more likely to report illnesses,
rather than chancing something that is not scientifically correct”.
Dr Wight said the NPCT would not hesitate to recommend closure if
future reports led to conclusive links to health dangers.
Copyright ©Patrick Amber.
Next page: “A
polite way of saying victims are lying”
Analaysis of the Parkwood Landfill
Health Impact Assessment Study.
See also: Pollution
The Burngreave Community Action
Forum Health Group has been looking at the effects of pollution
in the Burngreave area...