Media Releases

PFAS HEALTH STUDY - November 2, 2017

November 18, 2018


November 2, 2017

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson has welcomed news that the Turnbull Government will finally act on fears of a cancer cluster in Williamtown and investigate the potential human health impacts associated with PFAS exposure.

 But she slammed the Government for again failing to inform people in affected communities before announcing plans via the media.

 “Has the Government not learnt anything during the past two years?” asked Ms Swanson.

 Ms Swanson said she welcomed any investigations that could help constituents understand what the chemical was that had invaded their bodies and tainted their land, and take steps towards protecting their own health and that of their loved ones.

 “But it is absolutely appalling that those who have lived this nightmare of fear and indecision for more than two years had to learn about the Government’s latest plan through a news story. Again!”

 The Government yesterday announced it had established an Expert Health Panel to draw on Australian and international scientific research into the health effects of PFAS exposure, identify priority areas for research, and consider the views of stakeholders and the public.

 Ms Swanson has already contacted the panel to visit Williamtown to meet with residents.

She has also invited representatives to provide her with a briefing on the investigation.

 Parts of Williamtown, Salt Ash and Fullerton Cove were contaminated by the bio-persistent, accumulative substances PFAS following the systemic use of firefighting foam at RAAF Base Williamtown.

 “We have been fighting for years for the Department of Health and the Department of Defence to seriously consider the potential human health impact of PFAS,” Ms Swanson said.

“The anecdotal evidence is quite extraordinary.”

 A Newcastle Herald investigation revealed more than 50 cases of cancer along a small stretch of rural road at the heart of the contaminated zone.

 “Every time my State colleague Kate Washington or I refer to this seemingly inordinate number of cancer cases on Cabbage Tree Road we’re greeted with the same Government line:

 “…[t]here is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects,” Ms Swanson said.

 “Forgive me if I’m a bit dubious, but how will a $12.5million study that accepts submissions for just 19 days and announces recommendations within about three months add conclusively to the science around this issue?

 “And how will this Expert Health Panel work in with the ANU’s epidemiological study? We were led to believe that this was the most scientific and accurate tool for understanding the effect of PFAS on human health, but that it would take time.”

 Ms Swanson encourages all constituents whose lives have been affected by PFAS to make a submission to the panel by visiting