To: Prime Minister
Government MUST ACT for Williamtown PFAS Contamination!
Dear Prime Minister
The residents of Williamtown and surrounding areas have had their lives destroyed by the contamination which has been spread through their community by the Williamtown RAAF base. 2 years after this was made public, long after the government knew about this contamination, there has still been NO ACTION from the Federal Government to provide financial assistance for the residents who wish to leave the area to protect their families from the risks of these chemicals. Property values have plummeted and even parents with infants have had no assistance to move away from the area where they are prisoner to the toxic environment.
Repeated studies into the extent and nature of the contamination do nothing to actual remove the vulnerable residents from the risk. The residents simply want to move on with their lives and protect their families and the Federal government is the ONLY agency with the power and resources to facilitate this.
We wish for the Federal Government to provide financial assistance for residents who wish to sell their properties and leave the area. If this was a natural disaster, the Prime Minister would have been on the doorstep assisting with the clean up and offering assistance. We simply ask that the same assistance be provided to those people in the area who through no fault of their own find themselves in this situation.
We would welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister and Defence Minister to attend the area in person, meet the people and assess for themselves the impact. More importantly, the Senate has already conducted an inquiry into the area and recommended that this assistance be provided in the form of property buy backs and we implore the Prime Minister to act on their recommendations.
The time for action is now
Why is this important?
The residents of Williamtown learned at the end of 2015 that the community in which they lived had been extensively contaminated by the local RAAF Base. The chemicals in question are known as PFAS (Petro-Fluoro Chemicals) and were released over a number of years as they were used in a firefighting foam despite advice by the manufacturer that these foams be phased out of use. What was of greater concern, was that the Government knew of this contamination spreading into the local environment for at least 3 years prior and had not made the public aware.
Since then, action by the Federal Government has been limited to a further study into the extend of the spread of the contamination and a Human Health Risk Assessment, conducted by the Department of Defence itself, to assess these risks. The residents have seen their property values plummet to zero as no one is able to have their houses valued and banks will not lend money to anyone purchasing property in the area. Parents with infants and babies have been forced to remain in the environment, despite the desire to leave to protect their families.
The chemicals themselves are considered of great concern by the UN and have been proven to cause health issues in animals, and in some cases humans. The body of research into these chemicals and their effects is emerging, and the Australian Government has been emphasising heavily that they do not believe there is 'consistent evidence' of these causing harm to humans, despite international experts disagreeing, and their own health department providing advice that they should be 'avoided'.
The ONLY people with the power to assist residents who simply wish to protect themselves and their children, and move on with their lives is the Federal Government. The Office of the Prime Minister has itself taken control of the response, but in the 12 months since this occurred, absolutely NO ACTION has been initiated. The Prime Minister or Defence Minister has not attended the region and has not met with the residents in an open forum which they desperately need in order to explain the situation. The Federal Senate has itself conducted an inquiry into the situation in 2016 and despite making many recommendations including property buy-backs and financial assistance, these have been ignored by the Prime Minister.
Action is needed NOW. The residents should not be trapped in their own homes, desperately hoping for assistance from the government which itself was responsible for contaminating the area. Without community pressure, the Government will NOT take any action and we seek support to create this pressure.
Please sign on this page, and if possible write to your local Federal Minister and insist that they raise the issue in Parliament.
Father, Husband and Local Resident of Williamtown
P.S. Much more information can be found in the Newcastle Herald, as well as other news publications