15 Jul 2011

Free blood tests offered to residents near battery plant

5:14 pm on 15 July 2011

A battery recycling plant in Petone is offering to pay for blood tests for local residents, to check for lead poisoning.

The Exide Battery Plant has been dogged by problems since 2008, including an explosion, a fire and two prosecutions for exceeding lead emission restrictions.

The plant is set to renew it is consents later this month.

Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard says blood tests are a good idea and he would like to see them offered to everyone who has lived or worked near the plant in the past.

He does not think, however, that the consents should be renewed because the plant has had too many accidents and is too close to a residential area.

An Exide spokesperson , Mark Unsworth, says the company has improved its performance and his is sure the blood tests will come back clean.

"The same offer was made five years ago and I think only three people in the community came forard and again no high levels were found anywhere," he says. "So we are very very confident that the levels are safe but it's just giving the community an opportunity to make sure for themselves."