Letters to the Editor: February, 17, 2018

RED ZONE: Williamtown residents have spent more than two years fighting for certainty over the PFAS scandal. David Barrow urges them not to lose hope.
RED ZONE: Williamtown residents have spent more than two years fighting for certainty over the PFAS scandal. David Barrow urges them not to lose hope.

“RESIDENTS stunned as study says no evidence of cluster” – so says the headline on Thursday’s Newcastle Herald (15/2). To those affected residents in Williamtown red zone, welcome to the real world of dealing with politicians, bureaucrats and government paid leading experts. 

One has to feel for you, as now you are not only up against the might of Canberra but now also Macquarie Street. Having witnessed the might of the state government in action against its citizens was in itself heartbreaking to say the least. But to each and every person affected in this disaster: please don’t lose heart, and definitely keep your faith. Justice will prevail, even if it does take years.

David Barrow, Merewether

PFAS fear understandable

THERE have been a number of residents of Cabbage Tree Road who have been diagnosed with cancer. They are understandably worried that their cancers might be a result of exposure to PFAS in the environment. Cancer is a confronting diagnosis and I understand the suffering people and their families go through, especially when they are concerned that the source of their cancer might be from the environment in which they live. NSW Health takes these concerns very seriously.

Since the contamination adjacent to Williamtown RAAF Base was reported to NSW Health, we have been working closely with independent experts, other agencies and the community to consider the known science behind potential health risks from PFAS and to ensure people know how to manage risk.

Understandably, people have genuine concerns for their health and well being when they learn their homes have been contaminated with a chemical, and no amount of evidence can entirely address their worries for the health of their families.

Cancer is common in Australia, with about 1 in 2 people developing cancer in their lifetime. Experts say that if cancer was being caused by a specific chemical, they would expect to see a more limited range of cancers than the many different types of cancer reported in Williamtown.

We have analysed the cancer rates in the Williamtown area. This analysis has a range of limitations, especially when it comes to detecting more subtle risk levels, and we have outlined and discussed these limitations with the community representatives we meet with regularly.

Acknowledging these limitations, the analysis found no evidence of a cancer cluster amongst Williamtown residents.

NSW Health is continuing to monitor the situation carefully in addition to the work being undertaken by other agencies such as the Commonwealth government, who are exploring this issue in greater depth via a study they are undertaking with the Australian National University.

The NSW Health analysis is available on the Hunter New England Health website.

Dr Kerry Chant, chief health officer and deputy secretary population and public health


TO Carl Stevenson (Letters, 15/2): sir, I believe you are looking at the Barnaby Joyce situation through rose-coloured glasses, so I would like to reply to you stating a few of the facts of the matter as I know them.

Nobody that I know is against him for having a girlfriend/partner/mistress who is pregnant. The issues are, firstly, for a public figure and a steadfast Catholic to come out and say no against the same-sex marriage postal vote and argue that it would breakdown the concept and Christian belief of the meaning of marriage, then turn around and have a secret love affair and leave his wife and children in the lurch.

Next, his colleagues appointed his mistress into a lucrative job, twice, apparently without any recall and no public advertising of the same. Lastly, it has been alleged that the Deputy Prime Minister, the member for New England, has spent more time in Canberra then any other member of Parliament, all the while charging his stays to the taxpaying public.

These, I think, are the questions being raised, rather than what you mentioned.

John Matthews, Belmont North


I WRITE in support of Doug Hewitt (Letters, 8/2) and in response to Carl Stevenson (Letters, 12/2). With Mr Hewitt I criticise and condemn the Australian government for attempting to increase arms manufacture and trade. It is surely right to dream of, and to work for, a world where conflicts are resolved by negotiation and diplomacy rather than by force of arms.

Martin Luther King's most famous speech led to increased opposition to racism and the advance of the civil rights movement in the USA. Thirty years ago people said that to abolish apartheid in South Africa was an impossible dream, but enough people maintained the dream to see Nelson Mandela elected President in 1994.

George Garnsey, Morpeth


I WAS today sad to discover a quaint worker-style cottage on Denison Street in Hamilton that was built more than 100 years ago had been demolished last week.  

The signs advertising the property for sale encouraged buyers to renovate or "create your own new designer home". 

Should demolitions like this be allowed, and should the council require new homes to at least fit the character of the area?

Michelle Willis, Mayfield


AS a resident who walks past the restored Mechanics' Institute at Hamilton (“History in the making”, Herald 13/2) I am delighted with the restoration. It shows an imaginative building. Pity it is draped in such a dull shroud. Some Victorian colours would have matched the lively proportions.

It is more than just a pity though to be linked with the latest Hamilton Stalinist-style apartment blocks. The developments around Hamilton railway are other examples. I like modernist, even post-modernist building design, but these are simply depressing omissions of imagination.

Perhaps the government and Newcastle City Council could divert the "Newy, the Global City" PR spin funds into incentives for innovative and imaginative designs for residential housing that the community might enjoy.

John Heaney, Hamilton


THE pen goes to Mark Porter for his letter paying tribute to Justice Peter McClellan. 


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