COUN­CIL SUES FEDS OVER OAKEY WATER

Dam­ages sought over PFAS cri­sis

The Chronicle - - Front Page - TOBI LOF­TUS Tobi.Lof­[email protected]­i­cle.com.au

THE Toowoomba Re­gional Coun­cil has launched le­gal ac­tion against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for dam­ages re­lat­ing to PFAS con­tam­i­na­tion.

In a claim filed in the Supreme Court in Bris­bane last week, the coun­cil al­leged the Com­mon­wealth had been neg­li­gent and caused a pub­lic nui­sance in its han­dling of the mat­ter.

In the claim, the coun­cil said it could have to spend up to $12.5 mil­lion in water se­cu­rity mea­sures for Oakey.

LE­GAL ac­tion launched against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is about pro­tect­ing ratepayer as­sets, Toowoomba’s mayor says.

Speak­ing with Fair­fax me­dia yes­ter­day, Paul An­to­nio said coun­cil-owned bores, that used to sup­ply the ma­jor­ity of Oakey’s town water sup­ply, had been con­tam­i­nated with PFAS and couldn’t be used.

“We in­vested quite heav­ily in that bore field and we have a right to con­front the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment,” Cr An­to­nio said.

“We’ve been talk­ing to a num­ber of peo­ple and we have also re­ceived a sup­port­ive re­sponse from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.”

PFAS, or per- and poly-fluo-roalkyl sub­stances, are a group of chem­i­cals, the most com­mon of which are per­flu­o­rooc­tane sul­fonate (PFOS) and per­flu­o­rooc­tanoic acid (PFOA). The chem­i­cals were com­monly found in fire-fight­ing foams at De­fence bases.

The Toowoomba Re­gional Coun­cil has sub­se­quently launched le­gal ac­tion against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for dam­ages re­lat­ing to the con­tam­i­na­tion.

In a claim filed in the Supreme Court in Bris­bane last week, the coun­cil al­leged the Com­mon­wealth had been neg­li­gent and caused a pub­lic nui­sance in its han­dling of the mat­ter.

In the claim, the coun­cil said it could have to spend up to $12.5 mil­lion in water se­cu­rity mea­sures for Oakey.

The coun­cil said, due to the con­tam­i­na­tion, it had been un­able to re­open the Oakey Water Treat­ment Plant, which had sup­plied 65 per cent of water to the town’s sup­ply, since its clo­sure for main­te­nance in 2012.

It was cur­rently re­ly­ing on a pipe­line be­tween Toowoomba’s Mount Kynoch Water Treat­ment Plant and Oakey to sup­ply the small town with water, though the pipe­line was not de­signed to be the main source of water for the town.

“In or­der to pro­vide se­cu­rity of water sup­ply to the water net­work to sup­ple­ment the sup­ply of water from the Toowoomba-Oakey water pipe­line, the coun­cil must con­struct a du­pli­cate of the Toowoomba-Oakey water pipe­line at an es­ti­mated cost of $12,500,000,” the coun­cil said in the claim.

“Al­ter­na­tively, pur­chase and in­stall a water treat­ment sys­tem ca­pa­ble of re­mov­ing PFCs from water drawn from coun­cil bores prior to its treat­ment at the Oakey Water Treat­ment Plant, at an es­ti­mated cost of $12,000,000.

“Al­ter­na­tively, con­struct a reser­voir to pro­vide a min­i­mum 48-hour emer­gency back-up water sup­ply for the water net­work at an es­ti­mated cost of $3,000,000.”

The coun­cil did not spec­ify how much it wanted in dam­ages but said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment “knew or ought rea­son­ably to have known” since 1977 that the fire-fight­ing foam used at the Oakey army base con­tained PFAS and was po­ten­tially harm­ful to hu­mans and the en­vi­ron­ment.

A spokesman for As­sis­tant De­fence Min­is­ter David Fawcett said they were aware of the le­gal ac­tion.

“The De­part­ment of De­fence and the Gov­ern­ment is aware the Toowoomba Re­gional Coun­cil has filed pro­ceed­ings in the Supreme Court of Queens­land,” he said.

“As ... the mat­ter is cur­rently be­fore the court it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment.”

Photo: Con­trib­uted

PFAS: The chem­i­cal was used in fire-fight­ing foam.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.