KAT Cherry fears her children have been poisoned with toxic chemicals and now the mother faces an anxious wait to find out the results of blood tests.
Her story is being played out across Oakey and Australia as families wait for the results of blood tests after chemicals seeped into the groundwater.
Two of her children have illnesses, and although there is no conclusive evidence that the chemicals are to blame, she suspects they played a role.
Ms Cherry, who then had two children and was 10 weeks pregnant with a third, moved directly across from the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in 2007.
It has been determined perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid leached from the centre into a section of the groundwater aquifer from firefighting foams used during training activities held between 1970 and 2005.
The chemicals are pollutants and classed by the European Union as toxic and dangerous for the environment.
Ms Cherry remembers sitting on her stairs and watching firefighters spray the chemicals just 500m away.
Only a wire fence separated the properties and her children would jump through to play into the surrounding paddocks.
She shudders to remember how she and her family potentially were exposed, wading into water and digging into the dirt.
"I would drive myself nuts if I thought of every exposure," she said.
Three years ago, her son Todd, then 16, was diagnosed with Grey's disease. Another son, Elliott, has autism.
She said she felt there was a possibility the chemicals had exacerbated the illnesses.
Now living in Toowoomba, she's wrestling with feelings of frustration and anger.
"It's ok to do it to me, but subjecting my kids to it, that's what gets me."
Yesterday the Federal Department of Health started voluntary blood testing program for residents who live close to Australian Defence bases at Oakey and another base affected at Williamstown.
Ms Cherry, who has five children, said she didn't trust the government to conduct the tests honestly, given what she called a "history of deceit and dishonesty."
"How do I know they won't amend it? It brings paranoia into the equation."
She privately paid for a test which has confirmed the presence of the chemicals in her blood.
She is awaiting the results for her son Todd, and also plans to test Elliott.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Health said the blood testing program would be be open and transparent.
"This coordinated program for voluntary blood testing will ensure that tests are collected in accordance with best practice quality assurance processes for (polyfluoroalkyl substances), and will enable the results to improve Australia's scientific understanding of any potential health effects."
Ms Cherry said residents in Oakey had become divided in the fallout to the problem.
"But Oakey is not to blame. The Department of Defence is to blame, they're the ones who are accountable.
"It's their whole philosophy, they're treating the situation like it's a classified document."
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