Class action over PFAS contamination mooted

CLASS ACTION: Law firms like Maddens Lawyers want people to register to take action against the Department of Defence. Picture: supplied.
CLASS ACTION: Law firms like Maddens Lawyers want people to register to take action against the Department of Defence. Picture: supplied.

Law firms want to mount a class action on behalf of Katherine residents over chemical contamination of the town’s water supplies.

Experienced class action firm, Maddens Lawyers from Victoria are the first to go public with a call for Katherine people to register for the legal action.

Others have already contacted the Katherine Times expressing their intention to do the same.

Law firms are preparing similar class action cases around the military bases at Oakey in Queensland and Williamtown in NSW.

Shine Lawyers, representing residents in Oakey, is planning to meet with people in Katherine soon.

Maddens Lawyers say they have begun investigations into the Department of Defence for exposing residents of Katherine, to water contaminated with unsafe levels of PFAS.

Residents, businesses and land-owners in and around Katherine should contact Maddens Lawyers to discuss their concerns, the firm said. 

Brendan Pendergast, principal of Maddens Lawyers, said that the consequences of the contaminated water may give rise to a claim for compensation against the department.

Mr Pendergast said that the community has been living with contaminated water for too long now and their concerns were not being adequately addressed.

“This chemical has polluted the water they use for drinking and recreation, and closer examination should be undertaken. Access to clean unadulterated water is a fundamental human right.”

“We know that contact with water containing high levels of PFAS can have an impact on a person’s health. There is uncertainty in relation to the long term impact on the persons exposed to contaminated water. In addition to this, there is potential for land values to plummet putting more pressure on households,” Mr Pendergast said.

Maddens Lawyers has significant experience in representing large groups of people having successfully represented many hundreds of victims of bushfires across Victoria and New South Wales since 1983.

This includes people affected by the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and, more recently, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Anyone impacted should contact Maddens Lawyers on 1800 815 228 or email katherine@maddenslawyers.com.au to register their details. 

Registering is not a commitment to take legal action but will ensure that those affected are kept informed of developments regarding the investigation and compensation opportunities.

Given the number of people impacted, any potential claim for compensation is likely to be advanced by way of a class action.

Defence spokesman Steve Grzeskowiak said he was “not surprised” law firms were now “looking at Katherine”.