New case for PFAS contamination
A major beef processor has taken court action against the Australian Defence Force (ADF) over PFAS contamination.
Oakey Beef Exports has filed an action in the Supreme Court of Queensland, claiming $47 million in costs.
The company alleges that toxic contaminants entered its alluvial bore water, which it uses in its operations.
The abattoir in question is 150 kilometres west of Brisbane, just three kilometres south-west of the Army Aviation Centre Oakey.
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were part of fire-fighting foam used at the base for decades, just like at many other ADF sites around Australia.
Oakey Beef Exports says the contaminants have now rendered its water source unusable, causing financial detriments.
It has lodged a statement of claim against the Commonwealth of Australia.
General Manager of Oakey Beef Exports, Grant Coleman, says the alluvial bores had to be capped in 2015.
“At no time was contaminated water used at the Oakey Beef Exports abattoir,” he said.
“The premium quality of Oakey Beef Exports' world-renowned produce was never compromised.”
The abattoir has been using town water and water drawn from a deep bore from the Great Artesian Basin.
The company says the additional cost of sourcing alternative water and remediation required for on-site water storages constitutes financial damage.
It also alleges the contamination has had a negative impact on the opportunity to expand the business in line with market demand.
Defence has not commented on the situation as it is before the courts.
However, it says the excavation of the former Army Aviation Centre Oakey fire training area is scheduled to start this year.
Australian authorities tend to downplay the risk of PFAS chemicals, but the United States Environmental Protection Authority EPA says there is evidence that exposure can cause adverse health outcomes in humans.
Earlier this year, A PFAS class action involving more than 40,000 Australians was launched against the Department of Defence.