Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 12:18 UK

Call to investigate whether factory linked to cancer

Hanson cement works at Padeswood, Flintshire
The company said the site had a "clean bill of health"

A community council has called for an investigation to establish whether a Flintshire cement factory could be linked to cancer cases.

It claims there has been an "increase in the cases of various cancers" among residents near Hanson's Padeswood plant.

Penyffordd Community Council has asked Health Minister Edwina Hart to investigate.

Plant manager Mark Cox said: "We welcome any new study."

In a letter to Edwina Hart, Penyffordd Community Council clerk, Nigel Jones, said a public inquiry was held into the construction of a new kiln at the Padeswood site six years ago.

He said that inquiry promised a full health impact study, but claims the study never took place.

We anticipate that any new study will continue to show there are no associated health issues
Mark Cox, Hanson

He said it is a "known fact that there has been an increase in the cases of various cancers" within Penyffordd and nearby areas Penymynydd, Padeswood, Buckley, Leeswood and Hawarden.

The letter adds: "The community council is gravely concerned with regards to the current situation about the increase of cancer and also to what might happen in the future.

"The community council now feels that it is imperative that these full health impact studies are carried out as a matter of urgency."

Mr Jones said the letter was dated 22 March, but he had not received a reply.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the health minister has received a letter from Penyffordd Community Council and she will respond in due course.

"It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

'Suspicion'

Community councillor Colin Bithell said it had never been proved either way whether dust from the plant was detrimental to health.

But he said there was "enough suspicion" and said there had been up to nine cancer cases where he lives in the last year.

He added: "Somebody needs to coordinate a proper health study.

"There are two primary schools sitting under that stack."

Hanson is part of the HeidelbergCement Group.

Mark Cox, plant manager at Padeswood, said a 2004 study - endorsed by the North Wales Health Authority, Welsh Assembly Government and others - showed there were no health issues relating to the site.

He said the study had examined incidences of cancer.

"Having given the site a clean bill of health after 50 years of cement making, and with the recent introduction of the most up-to-date productions processes that have the lowest emissions in the UK, we anticipate that any new study will continue to show there are no associated health issues," he added.

Earlier this year, Hanson (formerly Castle Cement) was ordered to pay £300,000 in fines and costs after admitting safety breaches which could potentially have caused a cancer risk.

However, despite the possible increased risk of cancer, and other illnesses, Mold Crown Court heard the emissions did not exceed European levels and there had been no cancer cases detected.



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