IT is a wait that never ends.
For thousands of residents around the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelter the battle to have their lead polluted land cleaned up has stretched on for decades.
After a day of celebration sparked by news the NSW government will acquire the former smelter site to allow for economic development, hopes turned on Wednesday to a lasting solution for residents.
Powerless to stop lead from the century-old smelter stacks polluting their properties, residents now face a clean-up bill up to $100,000 each to remediate their land.
As Hunter-based MPs lined up in NSW parliament on Wednesday to support the government's compulsory acquisition bill, they highlighted the remaining injustice for residents.
Swansea MP Yasmin Catley implored the government to "address and consider" the needs of residents surrounding the Pasminco site. She said residents living on the doorstop of the former smelter, that closed in 2003, must be taken seriously.
"We know that many of these residents are subject to specific regulations from council regarding the disposal of contaminated soil because of their proximity to the site," she said.
"I would urge the minister to consider what assurances can be given to the surrounding community to ensure their land is also protected and remediated in this process."
Shadow minister for the Hunter Clayton Barr and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery added their weight to the residents' pleas for help.
"There are ongoing contamination issues for the residents out there and I know the government is aware of those issues," Mr Barr said.
"I just want to say to the community who are out there that this isn't the end of the conversation. The conversation is ongoing and I appreciate everybody's efforts on that front, but when we do get to the end of that story there has to be justice for those residents out there."
Routinely the government has pointed to a lead abatement strategy, approved in 2008 and overseen by Pasminco administrator Ferrier Hodgson, as a solution to the residential pollution scandal affecting more than 3000 homes across three suburbs.
In 2014, a joint Macquarie University and Newcastle Herald investigation uncovered major flaws in the state-sanctioned program.
Boolaroo Action Group spokesman Jim Sullivan described the abatement strategy as a "abject failure".
"The residents didn't pollute the land, they are the innocent party here, and that really needs to be recognised by the government taking action to help them," he said.
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, who conceded "we possibly didn't get the best community outcome", has committed to organising a meeting with residents and the Environment Minister Matthew Kean.
"There are still issues around the old township sites," he said. "I'm working with the government on those as well, particularly through the minister for the environment. We'll continue to do that."
Property Minister Melinda Pavey confirmed the acquisition legislation did not cover neighbouring houses or former Pasminco land already sold and developed.
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