logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 37 - December 2003.
    Parkwood Landfill Site Health Impact Assessment Study - page 1 of 2  

Fury over Parkwood Health Study
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 lives.”
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 dump.”

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 campaign
The Burngreave Community Action Forum Health Group has been looking at the effects of pollution in the Burngreave area...

A resident at the public meeting makes his voice heard.
Residents at the well-attended public meeting on 12th November.

Dr Jeremy Wight and Andy Buck, Chief Executive of NPCT.
Dr Jeremy Wight and Andy Buck, Chief Executive of NPCT.

All photographs copyright
© Sheffield Star.