Oakey contamination claim against Commonwealth hits $92m
Toowoomba Regional Council's damages claim against the Commonwealth for the contamination of Oakey's groundwater and soil with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has ballooned to more than $90 million.
Lodging an amended statement of claim in the Brisbane Supreme Court, TRC is now claiming an additional $80.2 million will have to be spent disposing of approximately 990,326 tonnes of contaminated soil within the Oakey management zone, an area which encompasses most of the town of Oakey and extends into farming land to the south and west.
The council's original claim, filed in November 2018, was that it had suffered loss and damage in that the value of its water supply infrastructure at Oakey had been diminished, as had the value of its water licence.
It also originally claimed it had incurred $275,000 obtaining a report assessing the feasibility of recommissioning the Oakey Water Treatment Plant to treat contaminated groundwater drawn from the council bores, and that it was looking at up to $12.5 million in costs to provide water security to the town of Oakey.
The council is now claiming there is a "likelihood of PFAS being present in the soil within the management area" and there is "no practical or cost effective way for the council to reuse soil contaminated" with PFAS, meaning it will have to be disposed at a licensed regulated waste facility.
The council has forecast it will need to excavate approximately 521,200 cubic metres of soil within the management area in the course of its provision of services to the Oakey community over the next 150 years for things like maintaining or replacing water infrastructure, constructing footpaths, kerbs, and stormwater drains; and planned works on land controlled by the council or which it maintains such as parks.
Soil contaminated by PFAS above 50mg/kg cannot be reused, the claim said.
PFAS was a component of the Aqueuous Film Forming Foam firefighting products, which the claim said were regularly used in training at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre from 1977 until 2011.
The claim stated PFAS is toxic to organisms in the environment described them as persistent in soil and water, are mobile, and are bio-accumulative and persistent in the human body and in animals.
The council is claiming from the Commonwealth either damages for negligence, damages for public nuisance, or compensation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, as well as court costs, and interest.
Originally published as Oakey contamination claim against Commonwealth hits $92m