Up to 40,000 Australians who live and work on land contaminated with a toxic chemical compound have joined forces to be part of Australia's largest class class process ever.
Families near eight Defense Force bases throughout Australia are prosecuting the federal government for PFAS contamination because their property prices are falling and health problems are on the rise.
Shine Lawyers has taken on the distinctive class action supported by US environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who was in Australia last week.
& # 39; We must do better … governments must stand up, & # 39; said Mrs. Brockovich ABC & # 39; s Law Report.
& # 39; Each of us has a common bond here, about loving the environment and our family – what we leave behind, the legacy we leave behind for our children. It is anxious and it should worry us. & # 39;
Leader of the groundbreaking class action launched by Shine Lawyers is the Reannan Haswell and Beaux Tilley couple from Perth. The family of five met Erin Brockovich (right) last week
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, is a collection of artificial compounds that look like bubble baths.
It is present in fire fighting foam used by the government and private sectors, including military defense sites throughout Australia.
From 2004, the Ministry of Defense gradually started abolishing the use of extinguishing foam with PFAS.
& # 39; Defense is now using a more environmentally friendly product. In addition, the Ministry of Defense has changed the way fire fighting foam is used to ensure that the risk of releasing the products into the environment is minimized, ”the department said. website states.
& # 39; The introduction of PFAS into the environment has become a concern because we have learned that these chemicals can continue to exist in humans, animals and the environment. & # 39;
The Reannan Haswell couple and Beaux Tilley from Perth (photo) have joined the historic class promotion
The eight locations involved in the class action are Darwin, Wagga Wagga in the regional NSW, Richmond in northwestern Sydney, two Defense bases in Townsville in North Queensland, Bullsbrook in Western Australia and Edinburgh in South Australia.
Leading the class-leading action is the Reannan Haswell couple and Beaux Tilley from Perth, who met Mrs. Brockovich last week.
Testing for their Bullsbrook ownership earlier this year confirmed that their water supply was contaminated, reducing their property value.
The water use of the family of five is limited to 150 liters that is sent to their home every two weeks, paid for by the federal government.
They want to relocate, but because of the contamination they cannot get permission to borrow from a financial institution.
The Perth family can no longer collect eggs from their chickens due to fear of contamination
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich (shown last week in Brisbane) has supported an Australian class campaign against PFAS contamination
The property of the couple that was purchased in 2010 is one of the 11 houses in Bullsbrook that have been hit so far, a number that is expected to grow.
& # 39; I get sick, angry but especially sad that all the dreams we had for our property have now disappeared & # 39 ;, Haswell told Daily Mail Australia.
& # 39; The health of my children may have been compromised through no fault of their own. & # 39;
& # 39; All of the shares that we owned earlier have almost disappeared. The only way we can sell is through a cash buyer. & # 39;
The infection has also changed the way of life of the family.
Reannan Haswell and Beaux Tilley brought their property to Perth (photo) in 2010
PFAS is a collection of man-made compounds that looks like a bubble bath that is used in fire-fighting foam
& # 39; Our children can no longer have spare parties or birthday parties here, for fear that other children are at risk & # 39 ;, Haswell told Daily Mail Australia.
& # 39; The children cannot play under the sprayer or fill an inflatable pool in the summer, where it gets up to 40 ° C here. We have timed showers and my son will only fill his water bottle at school. & # 39;
Last week's meeting with Mrs. Brockovich has made the couple more determined than ever.
Mrs. Brokervich knows something about class actions.
The former clerk was helpful in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California in 1993.
Her successful lawsuit was the subject of the blockbuster film Erin Brockovich from 2000, in which she was played by Julia Roberts.
& # 39; She offered a wealth of knowledge that we really needed to stay motivated & # 39 ;, Haswell said.
& # 39; There have been so many times that we really wanted to bash our heads against a brick wall because we wanted to run away. But she said we should stay strong and keep fighting. & # 39;
& # 39; Australia is behind the eight-ball when it comes to PFAS contamination, compared to the rest of the world. & # 39;
Erin Brockovich (photo) has described the federal government's answer as insufficient
Mrs. Haswell had this message for the federal government.
& # 39; We just want what's fair and the ability to move on with our lives & # 39 ;, she told Daily Mail Australia.
Although the website of the Ministry of Defense states that there is no evidence of human diseases or clinically significant damage from PFAS, it also recommends minimizing exposure to the chemical compound, which, according to Brockovich, is & # 39;extremely confusing & # 39 ;.
& # 39;They give warnings: don't eat the fish, eat limited fish, don't drink the water – but on the other hand you tell people it's safe, & she told ABC.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Ministry of Defense for comments.
The hearings with class actions start in April next year.
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