PFAS are manufactured chemicals that can cause widespread environmental and health concerns when leached into soil and groundwater. The chemicals are particularly difficult to breakdown, and are known to persist in water, plant and human systems.
PFAS Contamination Class Actions
PFAS chemicals were present in firefighting foam used by the Department of Defence in training facilities across Australia. The chemicals have contaminated local soil and groundwater, negatively impacting residents, their land and their livelihood.
Shine Lawyers’ Class Action team are currently involved in seeking justice for four sites of PFAS contamination – Oakey, Katherine, Darwin and Townsville.
For more information on each action, see the links below:
- Katherine contamination class action
- Oakey contamination class action
- Townsville contamination class action
- Darwin contamination class action
- Wodonga contamination class action
What are PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) are a class of harmful chemicals commonly found in products that reduce heat, stains, grease and water. They are common in many household products, such as carpets and non-stick cookware.
Why is the issue PFAS chemicals?
PFAS are concerning because they do not naturally degrade. They are ingested by humans and animals, and accumulate in the body. A small amount of daily exposure can lead to high concentrations over time.
PFAS soil and groundwater contamination can lead to high levels of the chemical in drinking water, agricultural land, animals and residents. The full effect on human health is not known.
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Common questions about PFAS Contamination Class Actions
This is a proposed class action (the Class Action) against the Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Defence) (Commonwealth). It will be alleged that the Commonwealth negligently allowed contaminants within the fire-fighting foam, to escape from RAAF Base Tindal, causing damage to property owners and businesses and/or causing unlawful impacts.
The Class Action, is to be brought on behalf of property owners and businesses for diminution in land and/or business values as a result of the Contamination. Once enough claimants have signed up to make the Class Action viable, it is intended to issue proceedings in Court as soon as possible.
It is not intended to include claims for health issues (current or future) in the Class Action.
No. If the claim is unsuccessful, the litigation funder will become liable to pay any adverse costs on behalf of all claimants and any costs the litigation funder has paid up until that point will not have to be repaid.
Regardless of the outcome, the litigation funder and Shine Lawyers will only be repaid from any settlement proceeds, not out of the claimants’ pockets.
We are negotiating for the ADF to agree to pay all necessary and reasonable legal costs for our Oakey clients and we are hopeful that the ADF will agree to this.
Collective cost sharing means that it will ultimately be much cheaper for a group of clients to obtain independent expert advice on relevant issues than it would be for an individual.
Shine Lawyers are also willing to look at waiving fees if we can’t get a fair result for residents.
Shine Lawyers is also exploring the possibility of a class action against the ADF, to be funded by a litigation funder.
No. The compensation being sought as part of the Class Action will be damages for the diminution of the value of property and/or damages for the impact that the Contamination has had on your business.
It may be that ultimately the Commonwealth government introduces a voluntary compensation scheme at some stage in the future. However, it has no obligation to do so, and attempts to negotiate a commitment to do so have been unsuccessful, notwithstanding two years of negotiation. A Senate enquiry specifically recommended a compensation scheme and that has also been ignored. A Class Action should also add focus and pressure on the Commonwealth to voluntarily compensate. It is the only thing that brings discipline to negotiations and ensures certainty of an ultimate outcome if they fail.
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