Expert quits over lack of government action in Grenfell aftermath
‘Still a significant number are suffering’
09 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Prof Anna Stec: quit the Scientific Advisory Group
THE specialist appointed by the government to investigate the impact of toxic soil around the Grenfell Tower has quit, warning nothing is being done.
Professor Anna Stec resigned from the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) saying “nothing is in place” to assess environmental and health risks.
Initial research had found toxicity of dust and debris around the tower – where 71 people died in a devastating fire in June 2017 – was 160 times higher in the north Kensington area than normal.
Residents were being put at greater risk of illnesses including asthma and cancer, she said.
But in a resignation letter to the government’s chief scientific adviser and chair of SAG, Sir Patrick Vallance, she said: “There are still a significant number of people suffering physically and mentally following the Grenfell Tower fire, and yet, there is still nothing in place to properly evaluate all the adverse health effects of the fire, and specifically exposure to fire effluents.”
She had called for a team to be set up to look into the health side-effects.
Clarrie Mendy: ‘I raised the issue of air pollution and soil contamination way back’
In April, the Extra reported concerns from Clarrie Mendy, whose two cousins – the mother and daughter Mary Mendy and Khadija Saye – died in the fire. Ms Mendy, who has motor neurone disease, spoke at an event in north Kensington after Professor Stec’s original research came out.
In a speech, she said: “I raised the issue of air pollution and soil contamination way back.
“I pleaded for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to look into any health risks to us, the community. They reassured me that the risk of air and soil pollution remained low and there was no need to worry.
“Now we have these research findings, I’m asking: where is the humanity?”
She added: “Health care protection should be a right. But we know in reality the situation is quite different.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said its “priority is to ensure the safety and the long-term health of the Grenfell community.”
He added: “The SAG has been involved throughout our programme of additional environmental checks and has collectively agreed that our approach to date has been scientifically rigorous.”