THE NSW government did the right thing this week in announcing legislation to compulsorily acquire the remaining Pasminco smelter land still in the hands of administrators Ferrier Hodgson.
Money the government earns from selling the land will cover the costs of any more environmental work on the site.
While this should assure the future of the smelter site itself, thousands of surrounding households are still left holding a considerable contamination burden that should never have been theirs to shoulder in the first place.
Residents of lead-affected properties are being held legally responsible for the contamination, and obliged to foot the clean-up bills themselves.
As we report today, these costs can easily reach $100,000 for a typical Boolaroo or Argenton backyard, an outrageous impost to remedy a situation that was no making of the householders.
The onus is now on the government to fund a proper residential clean-up, one that should have been Pasminco's responsibility from the start.
The public record shows concerns were raised about the responsibility for remediating contaminated properties years before the smelter shut in September 2003.
In August 2003, the Environment Protection Authority acknowledged that it had assessed the surrounding suburbs as being "at serious risk of harm", but had not made a formal declaration that would have held Pasminco responsible for a clean-up.
The Lead Abatement Strategy that was eventually agreed to in 2007 was supposed to have provided remediation for some 2000 properties, but funds were reportedly only provided if the recipient agreed never to sue Pasminco.
Then, after years of complaints about the strategy's inadequacy, it emerged during the Newcastle Herald's Toxic Truth investigations in 2015 that the EPA had never tested any "remediated" properties to see if the strategy worked.
Describing the strategy in parliament on Wednesday, Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said: "Possibly we did not get the best outcome for the community but it is what it is, and we now have to move forward."
Most of those caught up in this disaster would use stronger language than that.
But if "moving forward" means completing the clean-up without burdening householders, that's a definition most people would accept.
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