“Residents stranded on toxic and unsaleable properties have welcomed the Berejiklian government’s decision to break ranks with its federal counterpart, after NSW called on the Turnbull government to compensate the victims of the country’s firefighting foam contamination scandal.
The president of the Coalition against PFAS, Lindsay Clout, said residents felt surprised and vindicated on Friday, labelling the move a ‘huge shift’.
‘It’s a powerful statement that the NSW Liberal government is coming out now and distancing themselves from a Liberal federal government,’ he said.
‘People are now seeing the information coming out of the United States that’s confirming the things we’ve been saying for so long and it’s sounding alarm bells.
‘It’s like everyone wants to be on the winning side.’
Last month a Fairfax Media investigation highlighted at least 90 sites across the country that have been contaminated with toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals [PFAS], used for decades in firefighting foams on military bases.
In a scathing submission to a Senate inquiry on the handling of the fiasco, the NSW government urged the federal government to take ‘urgent’ action to clean up polluted bases and to rethink its messaging on the health effects of the toxins.
The NSW EPA had been left $3.5 million out of pocket, the submission said, because it had not been reimbursed by Defence for action it had taken to help affected communities despite ‘numerous’ requests in the last 12 months…
There was also a stunning rebuke of the Commonwealth’s refusal to buy back land across Australia that has been heavily contaminated.
‘The NSW government believes this is inconsistent with the ‘polluter pays’ principle,’ the submission said.
‘The Australian government should consider appropriate compensation for property impacted by PFAS contamination emanating from Defence lands where remediation of the contaminated sites is not possible or is unviable.’
The assistant federal environment minister, Melissa Price, who has carriage of the issue, said the federal government was aware that parties ‘have made or will make’ submissions to the inquiry.
‘As is always the case, the government participates in parliamentary inquiries and will consider and respond to any recommendations in due course,’ she said.”
Read the full article by Carrie Fellner