Oakey residents are fighting toxic pollutants and for compensation

Local resident Bernie Earsman
Contributed by Ugly

Residents at Oakey have been fighting an ongoing battle for recognition of the health damage, caused by contamination coming from the nearby air force base.

Oakey is a small town in Queensland 100 Kilometres west of Brisbane.

Government official have acted like heartless bastards, by failing to act to stop the threat and reusing to compensating those who have been affected, not only in regard to their health, but also because of the impact on incomes, due to the effect of contaminated land.

In response, locals have come together to stand up for themselves. One outcome is a class action of about 480, who are fighting or up to $200 million in compensation.  They have expert evidence that their water is not fit for human consumption and that it has contaminated local food sources.

At a local meeting last night, a Defence Department official claimed that the large-scale spraying of PFAS poses no health risk, completely ignoring a commissioned environmental impact statement from an independent company called AECOM. This official made the crass suggestion that they should not be eating local food.

Amanda Lee, A technical officer from the company, said that home-grown meat, vegetables, fish from Oakey Creek and eggs laid on local properties should not be eaten by residents living close to the contamination zone, where high PFAS levels have been detected.

The environmental report showed PFAS had been found in underground water up to 4 kilometres from the base.

Oakey resident Bernie Earsman, who attended the meeting and has not joined the class action at this point, said the Defence Department had destroyed his dream of retiring on his small rural property with his wife Margorie.

Mr Earsman said the value of his land had fallen from $270,000 to $120,000 and the Federal Government needed to compensate affected residents.

He told the meeting that his ambition was to “die one day bringing up a bucket of fruit and vegetables to Margorie … and then came along their Department of Defence and all their rot”.

Another technical officer from the dame company, officer Paul McCabe, said the contamination zone was still growing and authorities were still learning about the chemical.

“PFAS is an unusual contaminant compared to most of the things we normally deal with, because it does affect soil, it affects groundwater.

“It migrates very easily in surface and groundwater and it’s taken up by plants and animals — there aren’t many other contaminants that do all of those things”.

So why isn’t the government cleaning up the act and doing the right thing by the resident’s? One would suspect that something is being covered up.

There is absolutely no excuse. This story needs to get out and the people of Oakey support given for their battle for justice.



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