The NSW Government has developed a plan to help residents affected by water contamination around the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base.

Fire-fighting chemicals were found in some surface water, groundwaters and in small numbers of fish in areas around the RAAF base.

As a precautionary health measure, the NSW Government will connect affected residents to the town water supply, which is supplied by Hunter Water, as the contamination has not impacted this supply.

The Government is advising residents to not drink or prepare food from private water bores or eat fish, prawns or oysters that have been caught in the nearby area.

NSW Premier, Mike Baird, said the Government recognises the enormous effect the contamination has had on local residents and businesses.

“We have been in discussions with the Department of Defence to stress that we expect them to provide financial assistance to those affected.

“However, we believe the Williamtown community should not have to wait any longer for help, which is why the NSW Government is taking this decisive action.” Mr Baird said.

As well as connecting the affected properties within the investigation area to town water, the NSW Government will also invest in new contamination testing equipment and employ additional community liaison staff to help address concerns of the local community.

NSW Water Minister, Niall Blair, said affected properties, which are currently using bore and tank water, will be connected to the Hunter Water water network.

“Town water will give locals confidence in the long-term integrity of their water supply,” Mr Blair said.

NSW Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, said the NSW Government will also purchase a new Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer, to speed up testing of soil, water, biota and milk.

“The sooner testing is completed, the sooner we will have the information needed to address both contamination and community concerns,” Mr Speakman said.

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government will also establish dedicated local engagement officers in the Williamtown area to provide ongoing support to residents.

“The NSW Government is repeating its call to the Department of Defence to expedite its efforts to help the community. This NSW Government action is filling a void that Defence has so far left. Defence is the polluter in this case and the polluter must ultimately pay.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, said the action plan follows a meeting in December 2015 between the Premier and members of the local community.

“I am pleased the Premier and the NSW Government have listened following the meeting with Williamtown community members,” Mr MacDonald said.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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