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Aftenposten (Norway): Shell to fund cancer probe

Shell to fund cancer probe

(Alf Harald Paulsen is among the former refinery workers who has developed cancer, and he blames Shell. PHOTO: PÅL CHRISTENSEN / STAVANGER AFTENBLAD)

An unusually high number of people who worked at or lived near the old Shell refinery outside Stavanger have developed cancer in recent years. Several have already died, so now the country’s leading cancer research agency is launching an investigation, with Shell footing the bill.

For 33 years, Shell operated a refinery at Kolnes, just north of the airport area at Sola. It was shut down in 2000 and after it was dismantled, a massive clean-up of the site began. It’s now being redeveloped as a new commercial real estate project.

Around 120 people worked at the refiney when Shell ceased operations. Local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad has recently published a series of articles detailing how as many as five out of eight persons working in the same department developed cancer. Three have died. The workers reportedly were exposed to many chemicals during their years on the job.

At least 15 refinery workers developed cancer, along with more than 40 living in the area around the refinery. One of them, Alf Harald Paulsen, who worked at the refinery for 13 years, has accused Shell of ruining his life.

The Cancer Registry of Norway (Kreftregisteret) decided on Thursday to probe the cancer cases. “We will conduct a penetrating, scientific study,” said Frøydis Langmark of the Cancer Registry, which describes itself as “a governmental institute for population-based cancer research.”

Shell has agreed to pay for the investigation, and also has claimed it will take responsibility if the study reveals a connection between the cancer cases and the working environment at the refinery. The study is expected to take two to three years to complete.

Aftenposten’s reporter
Henrik Vogt

http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1826245.ece

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