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“American legal activist Erin Brockovich has arrived in Australia to support a class action lawsuit against the Department of Defence over widespread PFAS contamination, saying there are ‘eerie’ similarities to the 1993 US case that made her famous.

PFAS was a chemical used in firefighting foam on Defence bases until 2010, and it has since been revealed the chemical seeped into waterways and soil at a number of sites.

Shine Lawyers has launched lawsuits against the Defence Department in Katherine in the Northern Territory and Oakey in Queensland, and Ms Brockovich said they were investigating sites in Victoria and Western Australia.

‘I’m a foot soldier and I like to be down on the ground with the people,’ Ms Brockovich said.

‘It is the largest emerging contaminant in the United States right now and it is happening here as well.’

Ms Brockovich’s arrival comes as Defence prepares to hold a walk-in community session at Robertson Barracks in the NT on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The health impacts of the chemical have been hotly debated, with an independent panel advising the Australian Government that while there was limited or no evidence to link exposure to PFAS chemicals with human disease, health effects could not be ruled out.

Ms Brockovich rose to prominence in the early 1990s for her investigative and legal work taking on US company Pacific Gas and Electric for water contamination in the small town of Hinkley, California.

She is now a paid ambassador of Shine Lawyers and has worked with them on a number of cases in Australia over the years.

This is her 35th visit to Australia, and while she has previously met residents of Oakey, she will not visit Katherine on this trip.

Ms Brockovich said the PFAS issue in Australia had some ‘almost identical’ elements to her famous Hinkley case, which was later turned into a major film starring Julia Roberts.

‘There is a conflicting message going on that this can’t harm you, yet you cannot drink the water,’ she said.”