Hunt responds on toxic base
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the Government will attempt to clean up toxic contaminants from the Williamtown Air Force Base.
The base near Newcastle in NSW – which falls within Mr Hunt’s federal electorate - has been the subject of much concern, after news emerged that the fire-fighting chemicals PFOS and PFOA had leached into ground and surface water.
The leak continues, and locals are still banned from drinking water and eating produce.
Residents say the contamination has led to a drop in property prices.
Mr Hunt says he has been listening.
“The more we have discovered about what happened in the past, the stronger my concern is,” he said.
“There has to be remediation and at this moment [the] Defence [Department] is going through the analysis of what needs to be done, how it should be done and the Government as a whole is committed to that.”
While the government claims to be looking at several remediation options, experts warn that the contamination is so widespread that it may never be cleaned up completely.
Still, Mr Hunt says the Government will not shy away.
“It's a historic legacy. So it happened on somebody else's watch, it's to be repaired on our watch,” he said.
“Which is exactly why we've commissioned the health and environment and defence work, which is being done on it.
“We're expecting material from defence and health in the near future. Their duty and instruction is to make sure that they are both as comprehensive as possible but on the absolute fastest timeframe.”