Petition demands cancer cluster answers

In just a few hours on the streets of Helensburgh on Saturday, Di Young chalked up 200 signatures.

Di Young and her son Matthew, 9, who has a rare blood cancer.Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Di Young and her son Matthew, 9, who has a rare blood cancer.Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Such is the level of concern among residents hoping health experts will put to an end cancer cluster fears and declare their environment safe.

Mrs Young, the mother of the sixth child to be diagnosed with a blood cancer in five years, wants to make sure no stone is left unturned. Her petition will be presented at tonight's Wollongong City Council meeting.

NSW Health has set up an expert panel to investigate any evidence of a cancer cluster in the area.

The petition calls for Wollongong City Council to urge NSW Health to "assist the council to convene by December 15 a public information session to meet concerned residents of Helensburgh and surrounds".

The petition also demands that council get access to the 2008 NSW Health report into cancer concerns in the 2508 postcode.

And it asks that NSW Health "liaise with the council to undertake air, soil and water samples (including ground water) from the 'old quarry' site, 'duck pond' and Helensburgh Public School.

The petition also calls for NSW Health to appoint a community representative to the panel.

Councillor Greg Petty said he would present Mrs Young's petition at tonight's council meeting.

"After presenting Mrs Young's petition, I intend to move a matter arising asking fellow councillors to write to NSW Health in terms of the petition that has been collected by the local community."

Cr Petty said "only the testing requested" would answer Mrs Young's questions about "whether it is reasonable to bring Matthew back to an environment that still may not be safe after each hospital treatment".

Councillor Vicki Curran said yesterday she "totally supports the petition".

"I think council should be insisting on details and ability to oversee the investigative/review process," she said. "Past investigations ... have shown the necessity of having oversight and input by community and independent experts."


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