The federal government has paid out $86million in compensation to members of the Williamtown class action for the impact of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The compensation is part of a $212.5million payout to settle three class actions launched by victims of toxic firefighting foam across Australia.
In addition to Williamtown, class action members from Katherine in the Northern Territory received $92.5million and those in Oakey Queensland received $34million.
The amounts, which were previously confidential, are contained in the Heads of Agreement Settlement obtained by the Newcastle Herald from the Federal Court.
The Respondent will pay the Settlement Sum of $86,000,000 in full and final settlement of the claim in accordance with the Settlement Deed inclusive of costs (including for the costs of settlement approval and the costs of any contradictor in respect of the settlement approval and any reference process appointed by the Court) and interest (Settlement Sum).From the Williamtown class action settlement documents
The settlement, believed to be a world-first, compensates class action members for economic losses as a result of PFAS contamination.
But it also opens the door for further legal action by those who have been exposed to contamination at another 17 Department of Defence sites across Australia.
A court-appointed administrator is working through the members' claims to determine individual losses.
If distributed evenly, the 500 Williamtown class action members would receive $172,000 each before legal and administrative fees are deducted.
By comparison, $92.5 million divided by the 2500 claimants in Katherine would deliver $37,000 each.
The $34 million received by the 450 Oakey claimants would deliver $75,555 each.
But with the median house price in the Red Zone at $674,000, some residents said they were disappointed at the overall payout.
One estimated the payout would be lucky to cover 20 per cent of the drop in their property's value.
"I'm shattered; it's absolutely devastating," one resident who did not wish to be named said.
"We won't be able to get out for that amount."
Residents' spokesman and Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout cautioned against speculating about the size of the final payments.
"From my perspective, irresponsible comments could jeopardise the process we are going through," Mr Clout said.
A spokesman for the residents' lawyers said they were striving to distribute payments to affected class action members as quickly as possible.
"The next step is for the court to consider the adequacy of these amounts in all of the circumstances and, if it is satisfied that they are fair and reasonable, approve a distribution process to class members," the spokesman said.
"Presently, notices are being prepared to provide class members with sufficient information about the settlement and the proposed distribution of funds. Before such notices are finalised and sent to class members, they must be approved by the Federal Court."
Approval is expected to be sought at the next scheduled court hearing on April 6.
Last month's settlement headed-off what was feared would be a court process that had the potential to drag on for years.
Significantly, the terms of the settlement does not include any admission of liability by the government, which has been released from further compensation claims for economic losses.
The Newcastle Herald reported last year that defence had budgeted $53.8 million in legal fees for six matters, including three PFAS class action claims brought by residents from Williamtown, Oakey and Katherine.
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi welcomed news of the settlement's details.
"This huge settlement is welcome news for residents who have pushed for the class action," she said.
"It points to the serious loss experienced by affected communities, and will go some way to alleviating the damage.
"However, there are many who have been affected by PFAS contamination, who the government has left out in the cold.
"In light of the settlement, it's extremely disappointing that in its long-awaited inquiry response, the government has refused to commit to even considering compensation for all affected property owners, including through possible buybacks.
"'Polluter pays' is a basic principle of environmental law and justice. The onus should not be on victims to fight for justice when their lives have been upended.
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