Katherine council unlikely to sue Defence

Katherine council has no plans to sue Department of Defence over PFAS


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Katherine Town Council has given its strongest indication yet it is unlikely to sue the Department of Defence over PFAS contamination of the town.

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WASTE DISPOSAL: Almost a million litres of contaminated water was flushed out of the Katherine swimming pool back in late 2017.

WASTE DISPOSAL: Almost a million litres of contaminated water was flushed out of the Katherine swimming pool back in late 2017.

Katherine Town Council has given its strongest indication yet it is unlikely to sue the Department of Defence over PFAS contamination of the town.

Council was last week questioned about moves made by Toowomba Regional Council to sue the federal government for negligence over the management of land contaminated by firefighting foams.

The Toowoomba council has filed the case in Queensland’s Supreme Court, alleging the Commonwealth had been negligent in its management of the issue.

The council has claimed the federal government "knew or ought reasonably to have known" as early as 1977 that firefighting foams containing PFAS used at the Oakey Army Aviation Base were potentially damaging to the environment and human health.

The council has claimed the value of its assets, including water bores, treatment plant and water licence had diminished.

The council said it would also have to spend at least $3 million to secure Oakey's water supply because of PFAS contamination.

It is seeking an unspecified amount in damages as well as costs, interest and "other relief the Court thinks fit".

Council was asked last Tuesday night whether it was considering following Toowoomba’s lead.

Mayor Fay Miller said the council enjoyed a good relationship with Defence and was not considering legal action.

Defence is known to have paid for the replacement of filters and treated water at Katherine’s public swimming pool when it was tested as being above the recommended limits for recreational water use.

Defence is also committed to pay almost $15 million for a new water treatment plant for Katherine, and has already installed a small, temporary plant.

Mayor Miller said blood testing in other areas had shown results higher than those reported in Katherine.

The council has been asked in the past whether it, as the largest property owner in Katherine, was considering joining a Shine Lawyers class action from Katherine.

The council said the class action was a matter for individuals to join.

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