A FARMING couple won a two-year court battle yesterday to end fluoride contamination of their property near Cygnet.
For most of the past 13 years, Mr John Braim and his wife Sylvia have been baffled by excessive losses of sheep and cattle on their prime grazing paddocks at Nicholls Rivulet.
Two years ago, they traced the mystery deaths to fluoride poisoning – and found that the chemical came from adjacent land where a fluoride treatment plant serviced the water water supply for the township of Cygnet.
Mr Braim said that despite evidence last year that fluoride was killing stock, the Rivers and Water Supply Commission had refused to move the shed until yesterday when the complaint reached the Supreme Court in Hobart.
The commission agreed to a permanent injunction banning fluoride from the shed and to paying the Braims $65,000 damages plus costs.
Mr Braim said he was relieved that the battle to safeguard his property was won, but was still angry that the commission had resisted for so long.
“We’re satisfied with the settlement but it wouldn’t mean a thing if they hadn’t agreed to move the shed,” he said.
He said he provided the commission with two death certificates signed by veterinarians as proof that two sheep had died of fluoride poisoning.
The commission had admitted liability and had offered compensation for two sheep but would not remove the contamination source.
“We’ve had years of stillborn lambs, spastic calves and animals being born three to four weeks early with diseases we’d never seen before,” Mr Braim said.
Stock losses on his land had been running at 5 to 20 per cent compared with less than 2 per cent on neighboring farms.
“We’ve turned to politicians, the Government and the media but it’s taken the Supreme Court to get justice done,” he said.
The Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Michael Weldon, said a review of fluoride plants throughout the State would mean the relocation of potentially hazardous plants.