“WSWS correspondents recently spoke with Terry and Jenny Robinson , who have lived in Williamtown near an Australian air force base for 17 years. The ir property is within the ‘red zone’ established by the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority in 2012 after soil and water tests indicated high concentrations of PFAS chemicals (see: ‘Australian government reports whitewash responsibility for toxic foam crisis‘).
Property prices in the area have plummeted and there are serious concerns over the health impacts associated with the chemicals. Jenny is one of a number of residents suffering from cancer.
WSWS: What do you think about the government health report’s dismissal of the dangers of PFAS chemical contamination?
Terry Robinson: I personally think it is just a fob off, especially with everything that has happened in America, where they have proved it is an issue and that there are definitely health effects linked to it. The government can provide drinking water to certain people but it’s not stopping the issue. Our properties are still worthless. No one’s going to buy them.
WSWS: And the decision by state and federal governments not to compensate people living in contaminated areas, or buy out their properties?
Terry Robinson: It’s an absolute disgrace I can understand why they’ve done it, because it’s such a widespread problem. They’re just mitigating their liability and they’ll just ride that to the ground. As other contamination sites began to unfold, that was a bad sign for us, because if it was only one or two sites, they might have done something…
WSWS: Could you comment on the NSW Health report on the cancer cluster?
JR: NSW Health’s study included 1,400 people from as far away as Karuah. They included Williamtown but excluded Fullerton Cove or Salt Ash. Less than 20 percent of the people who were in that study actually live on contaminated land. They diluted the data so they could get the answer they wanted. And they only used evidence from 2005 to 2014. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, so I wasn’t included.
TR: When Jenny was diagnosed we hadn’t really talked to a lot of people in the area, but we gradually noticed a pattern. For example, a gentleman next door died of cancer. We knew someone else on the other side of the road who died of cancer. Jenny basically put together how many people on this corner had cancer-related issues or had died from cancer. On this road here there’s been some pretty rare forms of cancer that overseas have been linked to this chemical.”
Read the full article by WSWS