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Oakey PFAS Contamination Class Action

UPDATE: On 26 February 2020 Shine Lawyers reached an in-principle agreement with the Department of Defence, successfully achieving justice for Oakey residents affected by the PFAS contamination. Of the total settlement figure negotiated for landholders in Oakey, Katherine and Williamtown, $34 million was attributable to the Oakey class action. On 5 June 2020 the Federal Court approved the settlement and distribution scheme which determines how compensation is distributed to members of this class action. We will communicate directly with group members to provide further information about their compensation entitlements.


About the class action

In 2017, Shine Lawyers launched a class action against the Commonwealth of Australia, specifically the Department of Defence, for the alleged contamination of soil and groundwater in and around Oakey due to the use of firefighting chemicals containing per- and poly- fluoroalkyls. Click here to download a copy of the investigation area map.

This action was brought on behalf of over 500 individuals in the Oakey community who own, or have owned, residential and/or commercial property in the contamination area. Omni Bridgeway, one of Australia's largest litigation funders, funded the Oakey case.

Shine Lawyers fought for compensation for the economic loss suffered from a decline in value of residential, agricultural and/or business land due to the contamination. On 26 February 2020 Shine Lawyers reached an in-principle agreement with the Department of Defence, successfully securing compensation and acknowledgement for the impact the contamination had for the landholders in Oakey.

Click here to download a copy of the settlement approval judgment.

The Oakey PFAS Contamination Class Action did not include personal injury claims for exposure to the PFAS contamination.

See also:

Who is Shine Lawyers’ Class Action team?

Shine Lawyers’ Class Action team includes some of the firm’s most experienced solicitors and support staff. The team includes:

Common Questions

From 1970 to approximately 2005, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) regularly conducted firefighting drills at the Army Aviation Centre Oakey using a specific type of firefighting foam. The ADF has advised that chemicals in this firefighting foam have penetrated soil on the base and contaminated the groundwater.

Contaminated groundwater has been detected several kilometres to the west and southwest of the base.

The ADF has advised local residents not to drink their bore water or creek water.

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyls (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. 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.

The Australian Defence Force has indicated that the levels of PFOS present in Oakey’s groundwater range from 0.2ug/L to 500ug/L and levels of PFOA range from 0.4ug/L to 500ug/L. These ranges exceed the short-term health advisory limits published by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 (normally intended to protect for one or ten days of exposure) which are 0.2ug/L for PFOS and 0.4ug/L for PFOA.

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