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Williamtown contamination crisis - role for NSW EPA to prosecute and drive clean up

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 10 Jun 2016

At a meeting with Williamtown residents today Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon and Greens Paterson candidate John Brown called for the Red Zone to be redrawn in light of new international contamination standards and for the NSW Environment Protection Authority to investigate and prosecute the environmental crimes occurring at the Williamtown RAAF Base.

"The Greens are committed to working with the Williamtown community to create world class standards in dealing with the contamination crisis and assisting them to rebuild their lives," Senator Rhiannon.

"We now know other communities around the country who live near RAAF bases and other centres where the toxic firefighting chemicals have been used are suffering similar problems to what Williamtown residents are coping with.

"As the federal environment agency does not have the ability to manage this crisis we are calling on state environment protection agencies to investigate and prosecute the environmental crimes occurring at Williamtown RAAF base and on other federal land.

"We should clear away all administrative roadblocks that are stopping state environment protection agencies from taking a lead role in investigating, prosecuting and overseeing the clean-up of toxic contamination polluting soil, ground water and water ways around federal land.

"The Greens are calling for the new US EPA safe level standards for the contaminants PFOS and PFOA to become the Australian standard.

"The Red Zone boundaries should be reassessed using the new safe levels of 0.07 parts per billion for both PFOS and PFOA designated by the US EPA. The current levels being used in Australia are 0.2ppb for PFOS and 0.4ppb for PFOA.

Mr Brown said, "The Greens are continuing to call for residents and current and former Base workers to be offered blood tests.

"We are appalled at how the Turnbull government is treating Williamtown residents.

"I am calling on all candidates to back the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into this crisis. Williamtown residents should be given every support to rebuild their lives.

"The federal government have admitted they are responsible for this contamination. Now they should offer voluntary acquisitions for properties that have been diminished beyond repair and are ‘no longer fit for purpose'. This may be due to irreparable environmental damage or perceptions of the value of the real estate.

"Impacted locals should be offered an adequate compensation scheme for lost income, business damage, property devaluation, health costs and any other hidden costs.

Lee Rhiannon - Freya Newman 0411 669 022
John Brown - 0439 279 170

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