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Do You Know Any Victim Of New Zealand Poisoning?

Outbreaks of cancer and other serious diseases like multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hepatitis C., Downs Syndrome and Spina Bifida caused by exposure to toxic chemicals have appeared in clusters around New Zealand . Investigate Magazine published a report, which was subsequently censored by the mainstream media.

New Zealand manufactured substantial quantities of the deadly defoliant Agent Orange (2,4-D and 2,4,5,T), a weapon of mass destruction containing the lethal chemical dioxin, which was used against the Vietnamese with devastating effects.

Agent Orange was manufactured in New Zealand between 1960 and 1987. Dioxin has a 30-year envelop and will continue to poison people and the environment until at least 2017.

A former top official for the manufacturers has confirmed that the leftover Agent Orange was buried in secret toxic waste dumps: “We bulldozed big pits and dumped thousands of tonnes of chemicals there.”

Can you help us set up an international register for the victims of New Zealand Poisoning?

1. Do you know anyone who has visited New Zealand since about 1962, or anyone who might have been exposed to meat, fruit and vegetables, wine, dairy produce, or the derivatives produced in and has subsequently died of cancer, sugar diabetes, or strokes?

2. Do you know anyone who has children with birth defects (babies born with no brain, deformed ears and faces, blisters that look like major burns), Downs Syndrome, cancer or learning difficulties who might have visited New Zealand or been exposed to meat, fruit and vegetables, wine, dairy produce or the derivatives imported from New Zealand?

3. Do you know anyone with cervical cancer, melanoma, multiple sclerosis, Hepatitis C., lymphosarcoma, Spina Bifida, tumors, immunodeficiencies, or infertility who might have visited New Zealand or been exposed to meat, fruit and vegetables, wine, dairy produce or the derivatives imported from New Zealand?

If you are a victim of New Zealand Poisoning, wish to help other victims, or would like to claim compensation, please contact MSRB [website no longer maintained.]

Full report by Simon Jones is available at Investigate Magazine and Agent Orange Dump found under New Zealand Town

Walk down any street in New Plymouth and you will probably hear a mixture of coughing and spluttering. Look inside any school and there appears to be more special needs children than is the norm for a city the size of New Plymouth. It’s often been said that everyone knows someone with a serious disease, whether it be cancer or multiple sclerosis.

The story centers around one of the city’s major employers, the Ivon Watkins Dow Plant.

Since the early 1960s, and up until 1987, it manufactured the 2,4,5T herbicide – which contains the deadly dioxin also used to form Agent Orange – a weapon of huge destruction in the Vietnam War.

In New Zealand and around the world 2,4,5T is used to kill scrub, gorse and blackberry. In Vietnam, with concentrations of dioxin much higher, it had the same effect – to the extent where it devastated the country’s crops and caused major health problems amongst veterans, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, while creating learning difficulties amongst the vets’ children.

Yet recently, in a draft report leaked to the Washington Post, the US government upgraded dioxin to a ‘human carcinogen’ – in other words a substance which is a major cause of cancer, as well as birth defects and infertility.

“The problem with dioxin exposure is that there is a 30-year envelope. The historical effects are only beginning to come through now.” [and will continue to at least 2017]

The manufacture of 2,4,5-T is said to have started in New Zealand around 1962 and by 1970 the number of birth defects in New Plymouth doubled and the number of cases nationwide started to rise.

Because of international health concerns 2,4,5-T production was halted around the world – with the exception of one factory, the Ivon Watkins Dow Plant in New Plymouth which persevered until 1987. The plant is still in operation today but only produces pesticides.

Initially residents and workers were happy with health assurances from company bosses, particularly with the way waste was disposed through burning. But only recently have secret dumps been found around the city, dumps which residents say have infected soil and water.

In 1986 the Ministry of Environment held an official inquiry into dioxin contamination after 300kg of vapor accidentally leaked from the plant. Yet, interestingly, company bosses admitted that over 250kg of vapor was normally discharged as a result of the normal process anyway.

Take, for example, the case of Ross Lawrence, 43, who lived within a stone’s throw of the plant and worked there as a storeman between 1980 and 1985. He contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hepatitis C in 1998 – one year after his wife, Patricia, 41, was diagnosed with breast cancer. To add salt into the wounds, the 17-year-old family dog, Ena, died of cancer last year and both Ross’s children suffer from a mixture of skin complaints and bleeding noses.

“I came home from Pakistan where I was working on an oil rig in 1997 to look after my wife,” said Ross. “Shortly after I went to the doctor after complaining about flu-type symptoms only to be told that I had cancer and Hepatitis C. Isn’t it strange how three of us could get cancer in one household?”

An extensive course of chemotherapy seems to have thankfully cleared the cancer, and after having her glands removed, his wife managed to keep both breasts. But the trauma also brought its psychological toll. The stress and strain of illness coupled with the loss of his $100,000-a-year job effectively ended their marriage.

“This could have cost my life,” says Lawrence, “and it probably will in the end because Hep. C never goes away. They should be made accountable. How many other people have died of cancer without knowing the cause? How many other people are going to die?”

Ross Lawrence, like other employees, had few concerns at the time of working at the Ivon Watkins Plant. “We knew about the dangers of 2,4,5-T, but it was such a safety orientated company. They held regular safety meetings and did everything by the book.

“We were told that the waste was incinerated at temperatures which were so high that there would be no residue because everything would be dissolved. It was only when dumps containing the waste were found that I really started to worry,” he adds.

“There is still a cover-up going on. If you walk the streets of New Plymouth people wouldn’t know. Most didn’t know what the factory made. The local paper, the Daily News prints little on the subject. And the local MP doesn’t want to know.”

Now Lawrence is actively working on the local rigs but campaigns with others to lift what they say is a veil of secrecy over this health scandal.

Another leading the campaign is Andrew Gibbs, who helped set up the Dioxin Investigation Network. Recently Gibbs sent one sample of blood and a sample of breast milk to America to check for traces of dioxin, the particular type of which is called 2378 TCDD which is the most toxic type known to man. Gibbs claims previous blood tests have been worthless because 2,4,5-T passes through the system so quickly it leaves no trace. The difference here is that they would also be testing for its residual, 2378 TCCD.

When they sent the samples to the US, taken from his partner, Iris, and her sister, Lesley, they went missing for four days. Despite being clearly marked for an Atlanta laboratory, they ended up in Los Angeles. More than 160 days later, they are still waiting for the results.

“In Vietnam they have found levels of 30 to 108 parts per trillion in blood,” he said. “Levels in Maori women around the Bay of Plenty, where the herbicide was extensively sprayed, have already been found to be up around 26.7ppt. As of yet we still don’t know what the blood levels are in New Plymouth.”

Gibbs says even burning the waste didn’t destroy it. Instead waste streams left residue in the soil, on washing hanging out to dry and on barbecues. “We ate it, breathed it and wore it. When the Yanks burnt it off after Vietnam they burnt it off 80-90 miles down wind from Johnson Island.

“We burnt ours downwind on the whole town of New Plymouth. In the 1987 enquiry they said they found no evidence of dioxin in people or soil. But what they had was a 1,500 ppt safe level. The highest recorded in Vietnam was 808 ppt. In New Plymouth we’ve already levels up to 310 ppt.” His views may be ignored by health officials in New Zealand, but they have found credence in America. George Lucier, director of the National Toxicology Programme, and author of the Environmental Protection Agency report, says there is no avoiding dioxin.

“Even penguins in Antarctica have dioxin in them. No one sets out purposely to make dioxin. It is an unwanted side-product that you get from burning. Anytime you combine heat, chlorine and organic material, there is the possibility of making dioxins.”

Lucier says scientists did not quite understand how dioxin damaged the body, but did know it acted on a universal mechanism controlling cell functions.

Dioxin attaches, or binds tightly, to the AII receptor – a kind of cellular doorway found in virtually all cells in the body. Once there, it changes the function of hundreds of genes. It will either stimulate gene expression of suppress it.

Dioxin exposure has been linked to many different tumors, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcoma and prostate cancer. One Italian study of dioxin in children found hormonal changes.

“When they have children, most or all their kids are girls, not boys,” says Lucier. “Dioxin affects pathways that are involved in normal growth and differentiation, so it can cause birth defects,” he adds. “It can affect sperm counts.”

“It’s normal to get quite a variation everywhere for all cancers. One area might have a predominantly old group of people for example. But in many cases no-one is exactly sure why.” Yet since 1980 the birth defects rate in Taranaki has been about 50 per cent higher than the average for the rest of the country. While it’s fair to say regional disparities also occur in other areas for different types of diseases and abnormalities, Taranaki usually falls victim to all of them.

Roy Drake Story

Almost blind and unable to walk, 50-year-old Roy Drake lives close to the Ivon Watkins Dow Plant. In 1988 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“If you look at any major chemical plant anywhere in the world you will find massive rates of the same sorts of diseases. Here in New Plymouth, Down’s Syndrome and Spina Bifida are going through the roof.

“Our local school has 1200 kids and in 1999 they advertised for ten special needs teachers. I’ve found out in one Kindergarten alone there are four kids with cancer.

“People of New Plymouth are very illiterate to it all. That’s because there has been a huge cover up. Imagine the legal implications of this. The damages would run into billions.

“Half of my friends are dead or have brain tumors. Not many people live to a ripe old age round here. They all die five or ten years short of their time. I am very angry and cannot understand why this has been ignored for such a long time.”

“Drake says even his caregivers are riddled with disease. ‘I’ve had one who had sugar diabetes, two with strokes. The girl currently looking after me has cervical cancer.'”

“Drake thought the new Labor government, with its Green allies, would order a fresh enquiry following new American evidence on the damaging effects of dioxin. Instead, he says, they are happy to sweep the issue under the carpet. In June of this year Health Minister Annette King refused calls for a new enquiry, relying on conclusions found in 1986 – interestingly a report delivered under the previous Labor Government.”

“While I appreciate the ongoing concerns about the health of people living around New Plymouth, from the advice I have received from Ministry officials, I am satisfied that the monitoring and investigation carried out around IWD previously were adequate to show that significant exposure of the local population did not occur.”

“Not surprisingly, Andrew Gibbs disagrees. He says they are looking for recognition and help. He points that areas like Gisborne [and most probably throughout New Zealand], where 2,4,5T was sprayed has almost identical ratios of motor neurone disease as Vietnam – isn’t it time we were at least prepared to look at the situation again?

“Yet it seems the government is blinded by issues on the grounds of cost. The residents of New Plymouth say they have already paid a high enough price for dioxin contamination, including many lives. Their search for truth and a sympathetic ear goes on – but so far, few people are willing to listen.

An Extract From:


The following diseases are those officially recognized by VA as related to herbicide exposure.

WARNING: This list may change
–         Diabetes
–         Prostate Cancer
–         Peripheral Neuropathy (acute and sub-acute)
–         Spina Bifida in children of Vietnam Veterans
–         Chloracne
–         Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
–         Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, including any diagnosis of a lymphoma [except Hodgkin’s lymphoma], mycosis fungoides, and old terms such as lymphosarcoma, reticulum cell sarcoma and Sternberg’s sarcoma
–         Porphyria cutanea tarda
–         Respiratory cancers including cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea
–         Multiple myeloma Hodgkin’s disease Soft Tissue Sarcomas, including:
–         Adult fibrosarcoma
–         Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
–         Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
–         Liposarcoma
–         Leiomyosarcoma
–         Epithelioid leiomyosarcoma (malignant leiomyoblastoma)
–         Rhabdomyosarcoma
–         Ectomesenchymoma
–         Angiosarcoma (hemangiosarcoma and lymphangiosarcoma)
–         Proliferating (systemic) angioendo- theliomatosis
–         Malignant glomus tumor
–         Malignant hemangiopericytoma
–         Synovial sarcoma (malignant synovioma)
–         Malignant giant cell tumor of tendon sheath
–         Malignant schwannoma, including malignant schwannoma with rhabdomyoblastic differentiation (malignant Triton tumor), glandular and epithelioid malignant schwannomas Malignant mesenchymoma
–         Malignant granular cell tumor
–         Alveolar soft part sarcoma
–         Epithelioid sarcoma
–         Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses
–         Extraskeletal Ewing’s sarcoma
–         Congenital and infantile fibrosarcoma
–         Malignant ganglioneuroma
–         Under the VA rule, soft tissue sarcoma does not include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma.

Links to Agent Orange Information

AO Info;

Most recent AO Info “2003/2004”;

The AO Cover-up: Dioxin KILLS Web Site

Thesis on AO by Deana Feist;

AO and general information, (Vietnam Veterans Page/Lots of Good info);

AO page from the 2/94th, 175mm Arty;

Dioxin (AO) Study by Charles Kelley;

Agent Orange OUTSIDE of Vietnam;

NEW VA Hepatitis C Web Site;

CHAMPVA claim rejected codes

INFO on submitting AO claims from TVVET and VSPA ;

Johnston Island and Agent Orange;

AN old article on AO from Publisher of Hustler Magazine;

Supreme Court’s Decision on AGENT ORANGE “June 2002”


The Mystry of cancer in Alaska:

Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2000

AO Spray Map & Info “Must See”; AO Spray Map II; Gallons of Agent Orange, White & Blue Sprayed in Vietnam ; The Story Of Agent Orange; Article on Defoliation; MORE info on AO Chemicals; MORE Problems Caused by AGENT ORANGE;

Operation Ranch Hand Web Site

Agent Orange in Korea

Dow Chemical’s Nasty Little Secret Agent Orange Dump found under New Zealand Town


Surge in Childhood Cancer Rates in New Zealand

Home Letters to NZ Prime Minister Censored Truth About ‘100% Pure NZ’

[First draft June 2005, Updated November 2006 ]

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