PFAS contamination levels across the Williamtown Red Zone remain much the same as they were in 2017 despite an investment of more than $100 million to clean up the pollution.
Residents whose property values have plummeted as a result of the contamination scandal were stunned when they recently received advice from the Department of Defence advising that groundwater contamination had not changed in four years.
"The results of ongoing monitoring show that the nature and extent of PFAS contamination in groundwater has not changed substantially since 2017. While there have been minor variations in PFAS concentrations at some locations a significant trend is yet to emerge," the Department of Defence community information leaflet said.
Cabbage Tree Road resident Jenny Robinson said for many residents the news was the equivalent of having salt rubbed into the financial and mental wounds which they had suffered in recent years.
"It's very simple, if they (Defence) did what they said they were going to do with filtration you would imagine the levels would be lower, but they are not. Why don't they publish the results rather than point us to a website?," she said.
"Most people I speak to are completely over how we have been treated. When something comes in they read a couple of paragraphs and put it aside because it's just too much."
The ongoing contamination crisis also means Red Zone residents are unable to grow vegetables or eat poultry from their properties.
The Department of Defence has spent more than $100 million in recent years to mitigate the impact of PFAS from its properties around Australia. A significant portion of the funding has been spent at Williamtown, one of the worst contaminated sites in Australia.
Projects include water treatment plants, source area soil excavation and soil treatment, as well as on-base drain maintenance.
The recent Williamtown community update noted that concentrations of PFAS in groundwater had reduced significantly in some areas where remedial works had taken place.
"This is a result of removal of PFAS contaminated soil and the treatment of PFAS impacted groundwater," the update said.
The Federal Court hearing held as part of last year's $86million class action against the Department of Defence heard that many properties in the Red Zone had lost 20 per cent of their value in the past five years.
While the class action settlement brought some compensation to the action's members, it did nothing to repair the damaged environment.
Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout is among those fighting to have the contamination cleaned up.
"They have presented this (news of the ongoing groundwater contamination) like a throwaway comment.
"It's really poor, where are testing regime results to support that comment."
Mr Clout said he suspected there was a push to force the community to live with the contamination.
"We want our community living in an environment that was the same before it was contaminated," Mr Clout said.
'They are saying 'We can't get it out of the groundwater.' That's bullshit, they can.
"It's getting swept under the carpet at the moment because they are shutting down the community reference group."
The Department of Defence did not respond to questions about the recent community update or say when it expected PFAS groundwater levels would fall.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson described the lack of substantive progress on Red Zone groundwater decontamination after four years as ludicrous.
"How can the Morrison government justify splurging millions of taxpayers dollars into a flawed study whilst completely ignoring the families of the red zone," she said.
"Let's not forget this is a Prime Minister who wouldn't meet face to face with the families whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by Defence.
"The money wasted could have gone to buybacks that would have given people a chance at a new beginning."
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