Defence silent on Williamtown off-base PFAS remediation efforts

NO MAGIC BULLET: First assistant secretary of infrastructure Chris Birrer.
NO MAGIC BULLET: First assistant secretary of infrastructure Chris Birrer.

Defence has refused to commit to undertaking any remediation work to clean up toxic contamination outside the boundaries of the Williamtown RAAF base. 

At the unveiling of an updated Human Health Risk Assessment on Tuesday, a senior Defence bureaucrat spoke in depth about remediation being undertaken on the base, include water treatment and removal of contaminated sediment. 

But when first assistant secretary of infrastructure Chris Birrer was pressed on whether Defence was willing to commit to undertaking similar work off the base, he would not answer directly. 

“There’s no magic bullet that I’m aware of for cleaning up the contamination …but we’re continuing to work with the technology we have available, noting that there is still ongoing research in this field,” he said.  

Mr Birrer later told a public meeting that Defence was undertaking a study on the major drains carrying water off the base, but indicated it would be used to present “options” to the local council and state government.