Australia settles class-action suit over toxic chemical leaks from military bases
Sydney, Australia, May 15 (EFE).- Australia’s government on Monday settled a class-action lawsuit over claims that toxic substances used at military bases leaked into surrounding properties.
The settlement totals AU$132.7 million ($88 million) to compensate some 30,000 claimants of seven communities across the country, said Shine Lawyers in a statement.
The contamination occurred from the use of firefighting foam, containing thousands of toxic “forever chemicals” that do not break down and accumulate in the body, at seven military bases that leaked onto the ground and spread to surrounding land in the states of South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, New Wales South, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
However, the State did not admit liability in the settlement, which was reached before the case was to go on trial Monday in court and still requires final approval by a judge, Shine added.
“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,” said Shine’s joint Head of Class Actions Craig Allsopp.
The plaintiffs believe that the commonwealth did not take the necessary measures to prevent contamination, which has caused their property values to fall.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stressed that the authorities must take the necessary steps to protect people, according to the official transcript of the statements Monday in the city of Adelaide.
“People have, across a range of communities, suffered from the use of this,” he said.
“We need to get it right in the first place that would avoid these sort of actions, which the biggest concern that I have with PFAS (PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) isn’t, of course, a financial one – it is the health outcomes of people who are affected by it.”
Another lawsuit on aboriginal lands is still pending, Shine said. EFE