Headland dust fight to go on

Coun John Marshall pictured opposite Irvine Quay.
Coun John Marshall pictured opposite Irvine Quay.

A COUNCILLOR has refused to sit back and accept the findings of a study into industrial dust.

Councillor John Marshall has contacted North-East MEPs Martin Callanan, Stephen Hughes and Fiona Hall to see what they can do about claims that dust has plagued the Headland area of Hartlepool for several years.

People living on the Headland say their lives have been blighted for 19 years from dust created by works around Victoria Harbour, which is picked up in the air and deposited on their homes and cars.

But after numerous studies, health experts say there is no evidence to suggest that people are more at risk of becoming ill as a result of industrial dust than in other areas of Hartlepool.

Speaking at a Hartlepool Borough Council scrutiny forum meeting in February, Professor Peter Kelly, executive director of public health for NHS Tees, said health problems are down to the age of the population, levels of deprivation and high number of smokers as much as anything.

Last month, Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, former chairman of the council’s health scrutiny committee, said the process had looked in great detail at the concerns raised when the issue was discussed during a meeting of the council’s cabinet committee where the report was backed.

But Coun Marshall, independent councillor for the St Hilda ward, said: “I’m not accepting that this is final, people have a right to live in clean air.

“They can say there is no affect on health, but there is a nuisance hazard and a noise hazard.

“I have written to the MEPs, European rules should be looked at in relation to it.”

Earlier this year, Prof Kelly was asked to carry out research focusing on respiratory disease in children, mental health, asbestos-related disease and cancer rates.

His report found that 40 per cent of the adult population in the St Hilda ward, which includes the Headland, are smokers.

While 29 per cent are binge drinkers, 27 per cent are obese and only 12 per cent consume the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables.

The report found that there is also no significant difference between the ward and the North-East in terms of cancer rates.

He concluded: “There is no indication of any excess ill health caused by environmental factors.”

Previous council meetings heard the dust is suspected to come from scrap metal recycling firm Van Dalen.

Representatives from the firm have said that during the loading of ships crane operators on the dock are under strict instruction to lower their grabs as far down into the hold as possible and to not drop material from a great height onto stowed cargo.

Water is also sprayed onto the stockpile during windy conditions.

Coun Marshall is waiting for a response from the MEPs he has contacted.