Up to 40,000 people who live or work on PFAS-contaminated land could be eligible for compensation from the government if the class action succeeds, the law firm said.
Brockovich — famous for her legal fight over a gas pipeline that contaminated drinking water in California — is backing the move and met with affected residents in Western Australia state last week.
“The science is in on these chemicals. It can cause cancer,” she told the ABC.
“It’s fearful and it should be concerning for all of us,” said Brockovich, whose own anti-pollution fight became the subject of a Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts.
PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of chemical substances found in a wide range of products such as fire-retardant.
The health impacts of the substances are debated. The US Environmental Protection Agency has called them “possibly carcinogenic” but Australia’s health department says there is “no conclusive evidence” to support a cancer link.
Shine Lawyers argues that Australian residents have been unable to move away from PFAS-leeching army bases, as their properties are now deeply unattractive to prospective buyers.
Three other class actions against the defense department are already underway in relation to PFAS contamination, officials said.
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