50 cancer cases on Cabbage Tree Road as opposition leader Bill Shorten describes toll as “devastating”
Shorten on attack as toll strikes fifty Jenny and Terry Robinson. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Eric Moxey. Picture: Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society.
Irene Jordan. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Luke Jordan. Picture: supplied.
Lorelei Sneddon. Picture: supplied.
Warren Munro. Picture: supplied.
Leslie “Tex” Facer. Picture: supplied.
Michelle Gilchrist. Picture: Simone De Peak
Colin Northam. Picture: supplied.
Suzanne Quick. Picture: Marina Neil
Raeleen Russell. Picture: Simone De Peak
Neville Haywood. Picture: supplied.
Boronia Howell. Picture: supplied.
Ted Howell (senior). Picture: supplied.
Ted Howell (junior). Picture: supplied.
Danielle Proctor. Picture: supplied.
David Vial. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
David Gordon. Picture: supplied.
Judy Gordon. Picture: supplied.
Greg Waters. Picture: supplied.
Nancy and Gary Price. Picture: supplied.
Karen Price. Picture: supplied.
Craig Coombes. Picture: supplied.
Ken Graham. Picture: supplied.
Patricia Olsen. Picture: supplied.
Terry Olsen. Picture: supplied.
Des Maslen. Picture: Stephen Wark
TweetFacebook The cancer cases of Cabbage Tree Road +28MORE GALLERIES
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsOPPOSITION LEADER Bill Shorten has called for “urgent action” to help residents fleeCabbage Tree Road in Williamtown, as the cancer toll on the rural stretch climbed to 50 on Wednesday.
It was a figurelabelled “devastating” by Mr Shorten.
The Labor leader condemned a decision by the federal government to make residents of the road –who are stranded on contaminated, unsaleable properties –wait for another three years beforea study determines whether living there is putting their health in jeopardy.
Our original investigation: The sorrow on Cabbage Tree RoadHopes shattered as road’s toll reaches 49Rare cancer strikes twice in the red zoneThe list of cancer cases“The Williamtown community have battled this issue on their own for far too long,” Mr Shortensaid.
“It’s well past time for the Turnbull government to step up and take urgent action. Instead, they’ve dragged their feet every step of the way.
“These families deserve certainty about their health –2020 is too little, too late for families to be given answers.”
TheNewcastle Heraldput questionsto the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday,but received no response.
Cabbage Tree Road runs parallel to the Williamtown RAAF base, and has been heavilypolluted with toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl[PFAS] chemicals used infirefighting drills by Defence for more than three decades.
The 50th cancer case in the last 15 years has become Charlie Campbell, who died of a brain tumour last year at the age of 75.
Liz Campbell remembers discovering something was wrong with her father-in-law whenthey asked him to hold a newborn baby and he was too weak. Within a fortnighthe was admitted to hospital, scans showing he had a rare form of brain cancer.
“They tried to operate but it was too deep,” Ms Campbellsaid.
Ms Campbellcontacted theHeraldafter “many sleepless nights” for her and her husband, Greg. The couple aredebating whether they should paya second mortgage so they can taketheir three daughters, aged between threeand 11, out of the red zone.
“Wefeel very lost,” she said. “We don’t want to end up having no money to pay bills or buy food while we’re paying two mortgages. But we don’t want to get to the point where we go: ‘we should have moved’.”
Charlie Campbell lived in Shortland but travelled to his son’s 20-acre Cabbage Tree Road property nearly every day for 15 years before he died. He looked after the family’s trotters: feeding them, watering them and washingthem down.
The horses swim in a dam on theproperty and some of their foals have died unexpectedly. The family also had three dogs “just drop dead” at a young age.
Ms Campbell believes her father-in-law would have wanted to be included in investigations into a potential cancer cluster.
“Up until he stopped talking, when he went to the hospice, he used to say to me,what’s going on with that water? It worried him. He said you need to get the kids out of there,” she recalled.
One Nation senator Brian Burston said he had been “extremely disappointed” at the responsewhen he questionedthe head of the government’s PFAS taskforce, Senator James McGrath, over the cancer investigation.
“When I read Senator McGrath’s response, which included the line – ‘there is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects’- I almost fell off my chair,” Mr Burstonsaid.
“I am livid at the lack of action and lack of compassion being shown by these muppets in government to the severely affected community …this response is basically calling the community hypochondriacs,” he said.