Firefighters using foam containing PFAS.
Firefighters using foam containing PFAS. Contributed

City law firm first in country to settle PFAS compo claim

A TOOWOOMBA law firm has become the first in Australia to successfully settle a claim relating to the impact of PFAS groundwater contamination.

Federal Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh said he was pleased the outcome had been secured for Oakey landowner Eric Donaldson.

Adair Donaldson, director of Donaldson Law, the firm that handled the settlement, said it was a win for landholders affected by PFAS.

"This claim proves that the Commonwealth is prepared to work collaboratively to resolve an individual claim for damages caused by the impact of the PFAS chemical in the groundwater at Oakey and other parts of Australia," Mr Donaldson said.

While the terms and the amount of the settlement remain confidential, the owner was pleased to resolve his claim through a non-adversarial, out-of-court approach.

PFAS is a chemical used in the past by the Australian Defence Force on its bases.

The concern is that there has been chemical contamination of the groundwater which has potentially decreased the value of affected properties.

Dr McVeigh said the result for the Oakey landowner followed "ongoing representations over recent years to successive defence ministers for fair consideration of landholder concerns".

"So far, Defence Legal has received 45 non-litigated claims. In addition to today's settlement, two claims have been resolved under existing Departmental policy initiatives," he said.

There are currently class actions under way regarding PFAS ground water contamination, which are expected to go to trial later this year.

As part of the settlement there were no admissions of liability.

"Our client's claim was considered on its own merits and its settlement has no bearing on the outcome of the class action," Mr Donaldson said.

"Our client is most relieved the case is over, however, he remains critical of the bureaucratic delays."

"He is most critical of the negative commentary in the public domain which has unnecessarily damaged the reputation of one of the most community minded small towns in Queensland. He strongly believes that Oakey, because of its people, will prosper and the future for the town is bright."

Dianne Priddle and Jennifer Spencer after the PFAS Inquiry: Dianne Priddle and Jennifer Spencer explain what it was like telling their stories to the PFAS inquiry in Oakey.
Dianne Priddle and Jennifer Spencer after the PFAS Inquiry: Dianne Priddle and Jennifer Spencer explain what it was like telling their stories to the PFAS inquiry in Oakey.