A former driving pupil of a Waikato pensioner fighting to prove cancer-inducing lead poisoning while working at Marsden Pt oil refinery has launched a fundraising campaign to help him pay for specialist medical scans.
Brian Arndt, 77, needs an K X-ray emission spectroscopy for ACC to determine whether cancers that riddle his body, were associated with lead poisoning at New Zealand's only refinery, at the entrance to Whangarei Harbour, from 1965 to 1975.
Now, Aimee McPherson has set-up a Givealittle page to raise money to fund the X-ray that ACC says is not available in New Zealand.
"Brian helped me a lot in learning to drive and now it's time to pay forward the favour he's done," says McPherson, a 33-year-old carer from Huntly.
"I don't want him to suffer anymore. It's for him to get justice."
As a shift operator, Arndt was involved in transferring tetraethyl lead (TEL) and tetramethyl lead (TML) from bulk 44-gallon (200l) drums into separate vessels for the blending of regular and premium petrol.
Arndt, of Matamata, has survived various cancers and other health issues including violent "psycho" dreams and erectile dysfunction since the 1980s.
In April last year, his GP lodged an ACC injury claim form, saying that Arndt had suffered exposure to toxic chemicals while at work which had resulted in prostate cancer, breast cancer, and squamous cell skin cancer, with a recorded accident date of April 1, 1974.
ACC rejected Arndt's claim after its toxicology panel concluded it was unlikely that his cancers were caused by workplace exposure to TCE and TCL and recommended his claim be declined.
However, a review of Arndt's claim by FairWay Resolution last month quashed ACC's decision after finding the case required further investigation.
The independent reviewer noted there "seems no dispute" that Arndt was exposed to TEL and TML lead during his work at Marsden Pt Oil Refinery and that a K X-ray emission spectroscopy, funded by ACC, was the best way to determine whether his health issues were associated with lead poisoning at work.
While ACC accepts it is bound by the reviewer's direction, it claims there "is nowhere in New Zealand where such a scan can be done", and legislation under section 128 of the Accident Compensation Act 2001 does not allow ACC to fund treatment or procedures overseas.
But if Arndt can identify an "alternative and comparable" diagnostic scan in New Zealand, ACC says it would look at funding it. Alternatively, if Arndt gets a K X-ray done overseas, it vows to assess its results.
Refining New Zealand has denied Arndt's claims that he was endangered while working at the facility in the 1960s and 70s.
While Arndt is seeking compensation, he also wants "truth and transparency".
"There's been enough lies. I've had 52 years of problems. Literally for my adult life, I haven't lived the life of a man," he said.
"The bastards poisoned me. I'd like to know how much I have in my body. I have a right to know."