A NEW report into the health risks posed by the Williamtown contamination issue has been labelled as “unhelpful” after state and federal agencies gave residents contradicting advice following its release.
On Tuesday the Newcastle Herald reported the NSW Environment Protection Authority had expanded its warnings to residents within the Williamtown contamination “red zone” to include consumption of meat, fruit, and vegetables after the release of the Department of Defence’s long-awaited human health risk assessment.
However Defence, in the report, suggested that only residents in certain parts of the zone needed to adhere to greater restrictions, and suggested existing fishing bans were unnecessary.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said the conflicting advice was “unhelpful” for residents in the area.
“The EPA and Defence are clearly at loggerheads and Defence is running this show, and yet Defence is the polluter,” she said.
“It's the NSW EPA who has authority over the area outside of the base which is the focus of the human health risk assessment, but Defence is calling the shots.”
“The NSW EPA is clearly not able to control Defence and has allowed the polluter to run the show.”
On Tuesday Labor’s state shadow environment minister Penny Sharpe introduced a motion for an upper house inquiry into the contamination, including “the conduct of NSW agencies” responding to the crisis.
Labor will begin negotiating with cross-benchers in the next week before the motion is debated. The Greens have previously said they will support the motion.
Federal Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the report confirms “some of the worst suspicions that community members have had”.