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Williamtown contamination update

Publish Date 10/10/2016

Port Stephens Council has established this page as a portal for information relating to the ongoing water contamination investigation at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Valuer General's has reviewed land values in the Williamtown contamination investigation area.

View the report prepared for the Valuer General by Valuation Services, Property NSW.


Reopening of fisheries at Tilligerry Creek and Fullerton Cove

DPI Fisheries advised that the fishing closures in Tilligerry Creek and Fullerton Cove will be lifted from Saturday 1 October 2016, with an ongoing restriction placed on dusky flathead caught by commercial fishers.

Read more on the EPA website.


In August 2016, the Department of Defence released the Stage 2B Environmental Investigations Report assessing the soil, surface water, sediment and ground water at and in the vicinity of the RAAF Base Williamtown.

An Executive Summary is available on the Department of Defence website - read the 2016 ESA Report Executive Summary (PDF 185KB).

The purpose of the report was to understand the impacts from the historical use of aqueous film forming foam, which are now known to have contained per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

As part of the Stage 2B report, Defence also commissioned an off-site human health risk assessment. An Executive Summary of this report is available on the Department of Defence website - read the 2016 ESA Report Executive Summary (PDF 610KB).

The full report (and other current and past reports) are available on the Department of Defence website.

Please note, the reports are large to download and print. Paper copies of the reports can be viewed at:

  • Port Stephens Council
    116 Adelaide Street, Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324
  • Raymond Terrace Library
    18A Sturgeon Street, Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324

Community members can visit the Raymond Terrace Library to download electronic versions of the reports for free.  Please check with your local library to confirm the assistance they can provide.

NSW Government

The NSW Government has also developed a comprehensive FAQ sheet (updated on 15 August), that assists in explaining the result of this research. It can be found on the EPA website - read the Williamtown RAAF Base Contamination FAQs (PDF 961KB).

What is Council's role?

Port Stephens Council's role in relation to the broader Williamtown water contamination investigation is limited. Council's primary function is assisting in regard to rates, drainage and s149 Certificates.

Land value and rates information

Council has received numerous enquires relating to the rates levied on properties within the Williamtown Contamination Investigation Area. To assist ratepayers, Council provides the following information:

Does Council determine the rates I pay?

Port Stephens Council does not determine land values used for rating purposes. Land is valued for rating purposes by the NSW Valuer General and these values are provided to Councils to levy rates.

Ratepayers wishing to have their land value reduced for rating purposes need to make enquiry to the NSW Valuer General.

NSW Valuer General

The Valuer General conducted a review of land values within the area in June 2016 and most land values were reduced approximately 15%. The Valuer General has advised that those valuations had effect from 1 July 2016. Rate notices for 2016/17 were calculated using those new values. No adjustment will be made to prior year rates.

The Valuer General has a call centre to assist customers with valuation and objection enquiries. Ratepayers can contact the call centre by calling 1800 110 038.

Alternatively ratepayers may write to the Valuer General at GPO Box 15 Sydney NSW 2001.

Payment of Rates

Section 36 of the Valuation of Land Act provides that rates remain payable even though there may be a current objection in relation to land value or an appeal to the Land and Environment Court pending. This means ratepayers need to pay rates as levied.

If a ratepayer is experiencing difficulty in paying rates, please call Council's Rates team on 02 4980 0393 for further information.

Adjustment of Rates

If a property owner's land value is subsequently reduced, then the rate assessment will be credited with any necessary adjustments.

Section 149 Planning Certificates

Why do I need a Section 149 Planning Certificate?

Section149 Certificates provide information about planning controls and other property issues that affect a piece of land. When land is bought or sold, the Conveyancing Act 1919 requires a section 149 Planning Certificate to be attached to the contract of sale. Another reason for the Certificate is to assist an existing owner decide about the uses of their land.

Two types of certificates are provided by Port Stephens Council:

  • A section 149(2) certificate shows the zoning of the property, its relevant state, regional and local planning controls and other property issues such as land contamination. It is a mandatory inclusion in a contract for the sale of land.
  • A section 149(5) certificate provides the same information as a 149(2), but also includes other factors, including general advice regarding aircraft noise from military aircraft operating in the Port Stephens Area. A section 149(5) certificate provides the only avenue for general notifications of this nature.

Council recommends that potential buyers obtain a 149(5) planning certificate in relation to:

  • land in the Williamtown Investigation Area; and
  • the potential effects of military aircraft noise.

Please note that a s149(5) certificate attracts an additional fee in accordance with relevant legislation.

For further information can be found on our Section 149 Certificate information page or contact s149 certificate Customer Support in the Strategy and Environment Section through Council's Customer Service on (02) 4980 0255.

Drains

Council is only responsible for a small number of drains in the Williamtown Investigation Area, namely Moors and Leary's Drains and part of Dawson's Drain. The remainder are either owned by state government agencies or private land owners.

Council carries out routine maintenance and inspections of Council owned drains to maintain stormwater flow, including on those located in the Investigation Area. There is currently no embargo on drains maintenance within the Investigation Area.

Vegetation and material removed from drains is stored within the Investigation Area until testing of the material is complete. At this time, there are no further planned works on Council owned drains within the Investigation Area. Ongoing routine inspections shall determine if maintenance works are required and works will be programmed in a prioritised manner.

Where do I get more information?

Further information on the following can be obtained from a NSW Government fact sheet. It can be found on the EPA website - read the Williamtown RAAF Base Contamination FAQs (PDF 961KB). It includes information on the following areas:

  • Investigation
  • Precautionary advice
  • Health
  • Water
  • Produce and livestock
  • Fisheries
  • Investigation progress
  • enHealth guidelines
NSW Government contact details and links

Who can I call if I have concerns? For more information, please contact:

  • NSW EPA - Williamtown RAAF Base contamination community news
  • Federal Department of Defence in relation to RAAF Base Williamtown Environmental Investigation on 1800 011 443
  • NSW Environment Line on 131 555
  • NSW Food Authority Helpline on 1300 552 406
  • NSW Valuer General on1800 110 038.
  • Hunter New England Support on 1800 011 511
  • Hunter New England Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055
  • DPI Fisheries on 4982 1232
  • Hunter Water on 1300 657 657

Previous news and notices