Shine Lawyers NZ have been assisting affected landowners to understand the scale and nature of this environmental contamination problem. Shine Lawyers NZ has the benefit of a wealth of knowledge and experience of their Australian counterparts who are involved in class actions for 5 Australian Defence Forces sites across Australia (Link).
What are PFAS?
The term PFAS is used to categorise a family of manmade, long-lasting, toxic chemicals that accumulate in the body and environment, and include the now-banned chemicals PFOS and PFOA widely used in firefighting foam.
PFAS compounds are highly soluble and can travel great distances in the groundwater and in surface water that has escaped from a contaminated site. PFAS compounds are also very stable and take generations to break down in the soil.
PFAS soil and groundwater contamination can lead to high levels of the chemical in drinking water, agricultural land, animals and in residents living near to any of the contaminated air bases in Manawatū, Marlborough and Auckland.
Shine Australia’s Josh Aylward, who acts for various Australian communities affected by Defence’s PFAS contamination, says “these chemicals do not break down and are a toxic time bomb for those exposed to the contaminant.”
“The contamination will be in the environment for generations to come and it will continue to contaminate residents for as long as they live in these contaminated areas.”
For those reasons any landowners living near to the identified NZDF bases should be pressing the NZDF for blood testing as well as comprehensive testing of their groundwater and soil.
The New Zealand Context
Shine Lawyers NZ have grave concerns around the fact that the polluter, the NZDF, is also the primary body responsible for investigating the extent of contamination. Senior Solicitor Tim Gunn has been vocal in highlighting the fact that the “NZDF have chosen to keep this matter secret since early 2015 – they have not told government, local or regional council until the media have become involved”.
In New Zealand, Shine Lawyers NZ have been at the forefront of calling for more comprehensive and transparent testing. Currently, there are concerns that the NZDF is not using the most current testing regime and testing has been limited to groundwater.
Joshua Aylward says that New Zealanders have to push for better tests all around. “I’d also be pushing for transparency from the NZDF,”
Landowners living near to any of the identified NZDF bases should be pressing the NZDF for comprehensive testing using the TOP Assay testing methodology of their groundwater and soil.
For more information please contact Tim Gunn:
Phone: 09 414 0397
For interview opportunities and for more information:
Miriam Eryan, National Media & Communications Team Leader, Shine Lawyers
Mobile: +61 466 367 497