9th August 2019
‘Nothing is in place to assess environmental and health risks.’
The Resignation of Prof Anna Stec from the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) did not happen in a vacuum. It is grounded in the SAG changing the remit and parameters of what they were assigned to do from the start. Anna specified in her resignation letter dated 24thJuly. It states that, “The SAG was originally established to review potential land contamination and its effect in the vicinity of the Grenfell Tower and North Kensington, ranging from environmental analysis to public health.” As an expert working with a group investigating the potential contamination from Grenfell Fire chemicals, Stec’s departure is an open chasm that all is not well with the ‘official’ response to possible contamination and toxicity. In her resignation letter to Sir Patrick Vallance, (the government’s chief scientific adviser and chair of the SAG); Stec wrote,
“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.”
Stec also raised questions about the appropriate level of expertise that AECOM – the company appointed by the government to carry out the official tests of samples. She was disappointed at the lack of expertise of combustion toxicology or fire effluent analysis of AECOM. She also disapproved of the selection of sampling locations.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has also failed to reassure the community that all concerns raised by the community and Professor Anna Stec, have been addressed. A recent meeting at a local Leisure centre failed to meet community expectations for a thorough and robust process of testing and feedback lacked any substantive findings. At times, some of the responses given were at best misleading and at worse did not reassure the community; a community that has to waited now for 25 month to get clear answers.
Coordination between the NHS, Public Heath England, Public and the Environment Agency appears poor. The local community is starting to feel that there is no agency that can provide then with the right answers to their questions or properly address worries and health risks to them and their children to rest.
Prof Stec, a witness in the Grenfell Fire Inquiry, conducted independent tests of land samples to verify contamination levels within a month of the west London fire on 14 June 2017. She found levels of cancer-causing chemicals were 160 times higher in the north Kensington area than normal. She noted,“Nothing is in place” to assess environmental and health risks. The authorities continued to tell us that the area was safe. Yet the government has said its approach has been “rigorous”. The Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign would say it is just ‘not rigorous enough.’