SCEPTICAL residents have dismissed the findings of an expert investigation into claims that a former waste dump is causing a high rate of cancer.
Health experts were called in to undertake tests at Malkins Bank Golf Course, Sandbach, after claims that a high number of people in the area were dying of cancer.
They feared that toxic chemicals were buried under the course, which was formerly a chemical tip, and that they were entering the water supply and causing the deadly disease.
Now, after more than a year of investigations, experts have declared the area safe. But residents are still un-happy.
Vera Platt, of Malkins Bank, said: 'This survey was a total waste of time and effort.
'The area of Malkins Bank and Jubilee Villa, plus a few farms and cottages, must have a population of no more than 2,000 people.
'But the survey included more than 30,000 people. How can that be accurate? If there was a cancer cluster here how could they find it?
'It is nonsense to me. We need a proper survey of the local area around the course.'
Chris Meewezen, of Mill Lane, said: 'This investigation took in three post codes which span areas up to 10 miles away. That doesn't tell us anything.'
A packed public meeting at Sandbach Town Hall on Thursday heard representatives from the Central Cheshire Primary Care Trust (CCPCT) and the Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Registry present their findings.
Wendy Meredith, director of public health for CCPCT, said: 'We accept these findings and are not proposing any further studies.'
Rate is the same across locality
TESTS were undertaken at Malkins Bank Golf Course to find if toxic chemicals buried 30 years ago were seeping out and causing high levels of NINE different types of cancer.
The investigation carried out by the Mersey and Cheshire Cancer Registry, looked into the types of cancer most likely to be caused by an environmental factor.
Experts checked if high levels of nine different types of cancer had occurred in the Sandbach East, Sandbach West and Lawton wards of Congleton borough - including lung, breast and skin cancer, between 1981 and 2001.
The cancer rate in the area was compared to that of Congleton and South Cheshire -deemed to be of a similar population.
Scientists, working on behalf of the Central Cheshire Primary Care Trust, concluded that there is no unusual risk of cancer to residents. Harmful radioactivity in the area had previously been ruled out.
The report concluded: 'There is no evidence to suggest an excess of either cancer cases or cancer deaths in the study area, after adjustment for age.
'That is, the rate in which people develop, or indeed die from, cancers in the study area is not different from the rate in people in the surrounding area.
'This remains true for each cancer site (type), and group of cancer sites (types) investigated, and for both males and females. This makes it unlikely that there is an environmental factor disproportionately affecting the area.'
After the site's closure as a chemical tip, unchecked dumping of industrial waste took place before a drainage system was installed. It was converted into a golf course as part of a reclamation scheme in the early 1970s.
Residents, who conducted an unofficial survey of people living at Malkins Bank and Jubilee Villas, claim more than 80% of deaths in the area since 1970 were due to cancer.
But Cllr Roy Giltrap, who represents the Lawton ward, said: 'I am reasonably satisfied. As far as I am aware, it is only health officials who can carry out an investigation like this, and I am sure they would tell the truth.
'It is a very technical report, and I have been assured that it would have been far too difficult to survey just the immediate population, because they would need the health records of every person at every house for 20 years.
'However, we must not rest on our laurels, and if there is something else to be looked into, it must be researched properly and thoroughly.'