First published April 24
On the 12th March 2018 an email I had sent to Premier, Will Hodgman was published in Tasmanian Times.
The subject was relating to the death of Vanessa Goodwin, our late Attorney General from a terminal brain tumour. I asked the Premier for the reason why there was no mention of her death being associated with the high mortality rate stemming from the epidemic of brain tumour, rare cancers, immune and other diseases that killed so many people who lived mainly in the two small streets of Wentworth Park in Howrah.
Vanessa had intimated to me on several occasions her worry for her own health from having lived in that area.
A response to the email I sent to the Premier was received, saying they would respond – I noted that my email had been filed:
Re: M18/7035 Poppy Lopatniuk Gun Laws.
I tried to alert them of this error on two occasions.
I had also sent an open email to a journalist via the Editor of “The Mercury” re the fact of Vanessa Goodwin’s death in the close proximity to the brain and cancer cluster at Wentworth Park.
There has been no further response from the Premier’s Office or from “The Mercury”.
My son was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when he was 9 years old, gained remission at 14 years but fifteen years later leukaemia returned. When he fronted up the Royal Hobart Hospital when leukaemia returned we were told by a very concerned and apologetic senior health official that all his previous medical records had been shredded. About this time he was found to also have a brain tumour.
My grandson was diagnosed with a million-to-one brain tumour Craniopharingioma at 5 years of age. He had little help from doctors as his illness was too complex for them to deal with. He died at 21 years.
So very many of our neighbours, adults and children, have died of these horrific cancers and environmentally caused diseases and many are left suffering lifelong illnesses. Many who moved away from the area, whom we were able to locate had died likewise. During the investigation (mentioned below) it was very evident that my phone was being tapped and it was during this time that my son died.
I have spent close on 20 years attempting to get help from government authorities, Cancer Registry and relevant local and state records. We were unable to access - and what information I had from living in the area I had passed on to the Health Department.
Both past Directors of Public Health, supposedly custodians of our public health, showed great lack of duty of care, brushed aside all my concerns, asked no questions and placed every obstacle in my path to cause confusion.
I, and most people in my situation would not be after compensation but try to see that these deaths and the sufferings caused to family members, close friends and neighbours, whom we had lived close to for many years would not be in vain, and to see that every avenue of the cause of these illnesses would be investigated. And that this disgraceful disregard of health - as has been shown by the Tasmanian Health Department - does affect our grandchildren and future generations.
I have been in touch with nearly every politician in Hobart in past years about this issue – why is it left to the traumatised family members who have been impacted by these illnesses that are the ones who have to raise these questions and fight the power of top government officials who can cover up their mistakes so easily.
A small domestic landfill was in operation in during mid 1960 to early 1970 – sanctioned by State Heath authorities. There was heated opposition from local residents about the siting of this tipsite as twenty backyards of homes bordered the tip area.
The chairman of the Clarence Commission stated that there would be no menace to health and the tipping would be strictly controlled. Twenty years later in 2002 Andrew Ezzy’s “Mineral Resources Report” stated that the tip had been an uncontrolled site from the very beginning. No monitoring had ever been done.
There was an investigation done by a Melbourne consultancy firm and I was told that the soil bores that were sunk, were in places least likely to find contaminants. Legal oil repositories were in this area, unknown to most people, but used by council and waste oil depositors. The Melbourne consultancy firm were not informed where this oil was dumped.
In the Landfill Sustainability guide put out by the Department of Primary Industries in 2004 landfills must not be located in permanent swampy terrains.
We have the very eminent institute, the Menzies Centre, with huge buildings for research. They had prominently displayed in the entrance to their building their mission: “To conduct leading edge research into the environmental and genetic causes of disease by building on Tasmania’s unique population resource”.
The reason given by the Director of said Menzies Centre for not looking into the cancer catastrophe was that they could not afford the five million dollars that it would cost.
I have always tried to get the successive premiers to have the humanity, decency and compassion to see that the cancer cluster at Wentworth Park is officially acknowledged by the Tasmanian Government and that it appears on the Public Record.
*Poppy Lopatniuk was born in Burnie and spent her early years at Smithton and in that era people were brought up to use their common sense and fix things if they were wrong. Lived in her later years in the vicinity of Wentworth Park in Howrah for 35 years. She is the author of “Tomorrow’s Children” the devious acceptance by the Health Department of the escalating rates of cancers arising in the area prompted the writing of that book. Poppy has relentlessly pursued both State and local governments seeking the truth regarding the injustice caused after the devastating deaths of family members and many of her neighbours and residents in the two small streets in the area from environmentally caused diverse cancers and auto-immune illnesses. The blatant lies and reluctance of the Government to address this issued has not daunted her, at 92 years of age, she continues to seek answers.