Oakey residents file class action

Class action filed against Department of Defence following Oakey water contamination


More than 4000 residents have been affected by contamination caused by the use of toxic firefighting foams at the Oakey army base, which had leached into the groundwater.  Photo: supplied

More than 4000 residents have been affected by contamination caused by the use of toxic firefighting foams at the Oakey army base, which had leached into the groundwater. Photo: supplied

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A class action has been filed against the Department of Defence over PFAS water contamination.

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An investigation into the contamination of land and water around a Defence site at Oakey has escalated, with a class action lawsuit filed against the department.

On Tuesday, global litigation funder IMF released a statement that said it would fund the lawsuit against the Department of Defence in connection to any land contamination alleged to have occurred from the use of firefighting foam.

More than 4000 residents have been affected by contamination caused by the use of toxic firefighting foams at the Oakey army base, which had leached into the groundwater. 

Oakey residents have been found to have chemical levels 44 times the national average in their blood.

The class action has been filed to the Federal Court of Australia in New South Wales and is being conducted by Shine Lawyers in Queensland.

Read more:  Fiery questions raised at PFAS meeting

Shine Lawyers special counsel Peter Shannon said he believed Oakey was the worst contamination site in Australia but he added that more than 60 Defence bases around the country had exposed residents to the same toxic chemicals. 

"This action and the Williamtown action will pave the way to justice for those communities which have suffered," Mr Shannon said.

"In Oakey hundreds of innocent families have been, and continue to be, exposed. Many have invested everything they have into this town and now all their hard work means nothing.

"They're effectively trapped and can't sell their properties or move their kids out of the contamination zone.

"The community has suffered under this cloud of contamination for years with no end in sight until now.

"Today marks the first step towards justice for the people of Oakey."

To date 450 Oakey residents are involved in the class action.

It was expected the Federal Court would call both parties to set down a plan for how the case would be heard and then the Department of Defence was expected to file its defence within months.

Fairfax Media has contacted the Department of Defence for comment.

This story first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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