Cluster Farce - NSW Health Study into Cancers 'Meaningless'

Revelations that a study commissioned by NSW Health into a possible cancer cluster in Williamtown used data from at least 10,000 people who live nowhere near Williamtown, have sparked a furious reaction from local residents.

A Newcastle Herald article this morning revealed nearly 80 per cent of the study’s sample population live outside the PFAS contamination zone, and yet, the data was relied upon by health officials to publicly assert that a cancer cluster does not exist.

This is despite similar studies from around Australia – all of which were significantly better targeted than the NSW Health study – finding that cancer clusters have arisen in small population groups following localised exposure to environmental carcinogens.

Relevant studies of small populations that ultimately confirmed the existence of a cancer cluster include Fiskville in Victoria, Kooragang Island workers near Newcastle, and a case involving the ABC studios in Brisbane. Each of these studies was conducted with a population group smaller than 1,000 people.

In Question Time today, Member for Port Stephens, Kate Washington, asked Premier Berejiklian whether she stood by the NSW Health study largely comprised of communities nowhere near the contamination zone.

The Premier refused to acknowledge the study in her response.

Quotes attributable to Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington

“Given at least 10,000 people who live nowhere near the contamination zone were included in the data –more than 75 per cent of the sample population – this study is entirely meaningless.

“I am shocked that the obvious flaws in this study weren’t taken into account, and I’m angry beyond belief that the data has been used to publicly assert that no cancer cluster exists.

“The families affected by this contamination deserve better than that. Their suffering demands proper answers, not meaningless and misleading studies that will only be seen as trying to conceal the truth.

“Today I asked the Premier if she stood by the findings of this study, and she wouldn’t even acknowledge it.

“It goes to show just how low on the Government’s priority list this issue is.

“The Premier and her Government need to start treating these families with the respect they deserve, and stop making their lives even worse.”

This item was distributed as a media release on Thursday 15 February 2018.


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