Read the full article by Australian Associated Press (The Guardian)
“Thousands of landowners around Australia whose properties were contaminated by Pfas – toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as ‘forever chemicals’ – due to the use of firefighting foam on air force bases have secured a multimillion-dollar payout.
The settlement announced in the federal court on Monday still requires final approval from a judge.
Parties reached an in-principle binding agreement at the weekend for a sum of $132.7m, covering about 30,000 landowners near seven sites, the court heard. Members of the class action will be issued further details about the settlement as it approaches approval.
The commonwealth did not adequately prevent toxic chemicals in the foam from escaping and contaminating soil and groundwater, the suit alleged.
It has not admitted liability in the terms of the settlement.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said on Monday that while the case predates his election as prime minister, his concern is for the health of Australians.
‘People have, across a range of communities, suffered from the use of this,’ he said.
‘It’s another example of where we have to get occupational health and safety right. We need to get it right in the first place; that would avoid these sort of actions. The biggest concern that I have with Pfas isn’t, of course, a financial one – it is the health outcomes of people who are affected by it.’
News of the agreement was emailed to the court at about 12.10am on Monday.
The so-called ‘forever chemicals’, which accumulate in the body and do not naturally degrade, are linked to cancers, birth defects and diseases.
Monday’s agreement covers sites near Royal Australian Air Force bases at Richmond and Wagga Wagga in NSW, Bullsbrook in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, Edinburgh in South Australia, Townsville in Queensland and Wodonga in Victoria.
The Department of Defence previously agreed to pay landholders in Katherine (NT), Oakey (Queensland) and Williamtown (NSW) in a 2020 settlement worth $212.5m.
Shine Lawyers’ joint head of class actions, Craig Allsopp, said in a statement the agreement would save the cost of a risky trial.
‘The settlement money, if approved, will go some way to compensate the seven communities in this class action for their losses, however, many are still stuck on contaminated land,’ he said.”…