Monday, August 31, 2009

Oil spill off the West Australian coast as an appalling incident.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described a large oil spill off the West Australian coast as an appalling incident.

The West Atlas drilling rig has been leaking crude oil and gas into the Timor Sea for a week and a half.

A second rig is being towed to the site to drill a relief well and cap the leak.

Mr Rudd says the Federal Government is monitoring the situation and will do everything it can to minimise the damage.

"The relevant Federal Government authority has an investigation underway," he said.

"This is an appalling incident. We've got to get to the absolute bottom of how it happened but the immediate challenge is to deal with the practical consequences."
Supplied images from Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, taken August 28, 2009. Senator Siewert chartered a plane and flew over the site of the West Atlas oil platform spill, and says her visit showed that the spill was far greater than had originally been reported. (Office of Senator Rachel Siewert:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chevron A$50 billion project wins Australia approval

Australia approved Chevron Corp.’s A$50 billion ($42 billion) liquefied natural gas venture on a remote island, adding stricter conditions to quell environmental concerns about the nation’s biggest resources project.

The additional terms for the Gorgon project will enable it to proceed within a nature reserve “without unacceptable impacts,” Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in Canberra on Wednesday. Chevron has said the venture off the northwest shelf may produce its first LNG in 2014.

The decision clears one of the final obstacles to Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. building the venture on Barrow Island, 50 kilometers (32 miles) off the West Australian coast. Gorgon has contracts to supply fuel to China, India and Japan and is among more than 12 LNG projects in the region competing for Asian buyers.

“Gorgon is big and going to fill the available hole” for LNG demand, said Peter Arden, a Melbourne-based analyst at Ord Minnett Ltd., an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co. “There’s a case for some of the proposed projects that if they don’t move quickly then it may get congested and some might not make it.”

The Gorgon partners will make a development decision after they win production licenses from the Australian government and development approvals from the Western Australian state government, Nicole Hodgson, a Chevron spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oil & Gas Spills anywhere along the west coast of Australia has consequences for all of the Australian coastline

Influenced from the Pacific Ocean by El Niño, the Leeuwin Current exerts a major influence on the distribution of marine life and Western Australias weather. It forms near the North West Shelf on Australia's west coast.

Ocean currents shape the marine environment and our climate. As it travels south the current breaks into a series of southward and eastward flowing eddies and eventually dissipates in the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean. It is the longest coastal current in the world, extending some 5 000 kilometres.

Mr Barnett says if the weather or ocean current changes, the WA Government can send out ships and planes to help contain the spread of the oil. "And if the worst possible scenario comes into play and some oil washes up on the West Australian coast, then there will be recovery teams in place including wildlife recovery teams," he said.

Can someone please explain how our Premier is planning to stop the Holloway Current or how he thinks it will change?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Spill

Just click on the links and follow the "World's Best Practice!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is a largely self-funded government agency with the charter of enhancing efficiency in the delivery of safety and other services to the Australian maritime industry. The following information was obtained from

Under the Australian National Plan arrangements the On Scene Coordinator (OSC) usually has the responsibility to authorise the use of chemical dispersants in an oil spill incident. Another officer or agency may have the authority as designated by state or territory contingency plan. This decision is usually based upon the advice of the designated Commonwealth/State/Regional Environmental and Scientific Coordinator (ESC).

The advice will always consider the:
oil type (persistent or evaporative),
location of the slick,
spread of the oil,
movement of the slick,
proximity of the oil to sensitive environments,
wildlife priorities,
safety concerns,
water depth,
water exchange in the area,
and whether the oil is amenable to dispersant application, etc.

On what basis is the decision made to use dispersants in a spill incident?

The main basis for decision making in determining whether oil spill dispersant will be used is:

" Will the application of the chemical dispersant to the spilled oil minimise the overall environmental impact of the oil spill?"

Except for the impact on marine birds and mammals, the most damaging effect of oil spills is when the oil strands on shorelines or enters restricted shallow waters like estuaries. Oil Spill Dispersants are a prime and vital response tool to stop oil coming ashore or from entering sensitive foreshore environments especially when weather and sea conditions do not allow the use of oil containment and recovery equipment.

Oil Spill Dispersants are usually not applied to oil spills in "near shore areas" for example: where sea grass beds, oyster beds, mariculture or coral reefs are present. However, dispersant use may be authorised by the On Scene Coordinator in consultation with the Environmental and Scientific Coordinator in these circumstances when there is a possibility of an impact of oil on a more sensitive foreshore habitat, or wildlife impacts are possible. For example, when an approaching oil slick may impact sensitive fringing mangroves, or endangered species such as migratory birds.

What are the negative effects of dispersants on the environment ?

The acute toxicity of dispersed oil generally does not reside in the dispersant but in the more toxic fractions of the oil. Dispersing oil into the water in situations where there is little water movement or exchange, such as shallow embayments, increases exposure of subsurface, benthic organisms and fish to the toxic components of the oil.

Fish and other marine life in the larvae stage or juvenile stages are more prone to the toxicity effects of oil and dispersants. Therefore it is unlikely dispersants will be used near commercial fisheries, important breeding grounds, fish nurseries, shellfish aquaculture etc. unless it is to protect a more important environmental resource.

Seagrasses and coral reef communities are particularly sensitive to dispersed oil because instead of the oil "floating over" the reefs and submerged seagrass beds the oil/dispersant mixture in the water colour will come into direct contact with these sensitive ecosystems.

Generally there is a reluctance by spill responders to use dispersants in shallow waters less than 5 metres deep, although there may be situations where using dispersants could save foreshore impacts or wildlife.

What are the impacts of dispersed oil on coral reefs?

Coral reef communities are highly sensitive to both oil and oil/dispersant mixtures. For example the exposure of coral to hydrocarbons can cause:

loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae (tiny algae living in coral),
reduced metabolism,
cellular atrophy,
decreased reproductive success,
impaired tissue development, and
death of the coral.
Spill responders will avoid using Oil Spill Dispersantsin or near coral reefs, in shallow waters, sea grass beds or where poor water exchange or circulation is apparent, unless in exceptional circumstances to protect mangroves or other highly sensitive foreshores.

How effective are oil spill dispersants ?

Chemical dispersants aid the natural dispersion of oil by reducing the oil/water interfacial tension and, along with the natural motion of the sea, allow the break up of oil on the water into very fine droplets.

Effectiveness of oil dispersion by chemical dispersants at sea is governed by a range of conditions and include the:
type and chemistry of the oil,
degree of weathering of the oil,
the thickness of the oil slick,
type of dispersant,
droplet size and application ratio,
prevailing sea conditions (wave mixing energy), and
sea temperature and salinity.

Will dispersants work on all types of oils ?

No, dispersants will not work on all oil spills.

The first rule in combating oil spills with dispersants is that the oil must be amenable to dispersant use. It is also well understood by oil spill response agencies that dispersants are only effective on certain types of oils and the first priority is always to determine the spilled oil's physical and chemical properties in order to assess combat options.

It has been generally accepted that non-dispersable oils are;

non-spreading oils (pour point is higher than sea temperature), highly viscous oils (> 2000 Centistokes (cSt) - a measurement of the mobility of oil), a water-in-oil emulsion has formed (mousse).

A "rule of thumb" amongst spill responders as to whether or not a dispersant will work has historically been - "a dispersant may have a reasonable success rate if the oil is continuing to "flow" or spread as a fluid (not just sheening)".

Unfortunately this "rule of thumb" is only partly correct. The properties of these oils are determined by their chemical composition which vary widely. For the purposes of determining the use of dispersants at various sea temperatures the important properties are:

the specific gravity (or API gravity),
pour point, and

Pour point and viscosity of a spilt oil are the dominant factors for the determination dispersant use. An oil/sea temperature/dispersant use matrix has been prepared by AMSA to assist responders under the National Plan. Field testing of dispersants on the spilt oil may be required by the On Scene Coordinator (OSC) or the Environmental and Scientific Coordinator (ESC) before the decision to proceed with dispersant spraying operations is made.

How quickly do we need to apply dispersants to an oil spill ?

As quickly as possible!

There is only a limited "window of opportunity" to use chemical dispersant in an oil spill incident. This is primarily due to the changing properties of the spilt oil due to weathering of the oil, but is also governed by the location and speed of movement of the slick onto the foreshores or into estuarine environments.

This window of opportunity may be as little as only a few hours. Sometimes if the conditions are favourable, a day or two.

Therefore it is essential that the capability exists to quickly activate and deploy resources anywhere across Australia to deliver and apply oil spill dispersants at sea.

The National Plan, with the assistance of the oil industry, has in place a fixed wing aerial dispersant capability along with significant stocks of Oil Spill Dispersants around the Australian coast. This aerial dispersant capability provides "at call", commercially operated, large agricultural spray aircraft to provide the delivery of Oil Spill Dispersants during maritime incidents.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Social Impact Assessment Façade

The way in which the Social Impact Assessment for the Kimberley LNG Precinct is being conducted, the insincerity of the Western Australian government’s Department of State Development intentions to consult the local community, the hypocritically ways in which they interpret their own reports and implement their own social impact guidelines, the ways in which information is presented or not and their highly questionable arrogant indifference shown to the Broome community is totally dumfounding, frustrating and dishonest.

It appears that even our local elected representatives, Broome Shire Council are being treated with the same indifference. Redhand has grave concerns as to how the Department of State Development are going to conduct the Indigenous Social Impact Assessment given their present day performance and their total disregard for community, people, their values and their own sense of place.

Trying to get information from or even a return phone call about these social impact workshops has been like drawing blood from a stone. These workshops have not been advertised, no one understands who has been invited to attend or how they were the chosen few, when or where these workshops were being held or how the attendees learned about the workshops. There has been no independent scrutiny about the information given or the way in which information has been presented at these workshops.

From what we can gather, other Government departments have been responsible in nominating people to attend these workshops. Apparently, the workshops have been purposely limited in size and were held in the local Broome DSD offices. The larger Health workshop was held at the Mangrove Hotel on the 12th August. Even the Community Update:- Kimberley LNG precinct published in the local newspaper fails to inform the community about the times, dates and venues for these workshops and abortive to provide contact numbers or names (this was rectified in this weeks’ paper after several phone calls) and many people do not have access to the internet and are unable to inform themselves through the website address provided. Should you wish to attend the remaining workshops you need to receive an invitation? How you would do this? I do not know.

22nd July Sport and Recreation
6th August, Infrastructure
11th August Housing and Land
12th August Health Impacts

On the 10th September, the Heritage and Sense of Place Workshop will be held, where? This workshop aims to identify what makes Broome unique and our community’s sense of place. So, how would the Department of State Development know who to invite to this workshop? We certainly understand they know who not to invite, the general public, the major stakeholders in this so called Social Impact Assessment façade.

So where is the Public forums, the Department of State Development has been promising the Broome Community for months and when is the State Development Department going to abide by their contractual agreement with the Federal Government to ensure that these basic fundamental principles of community consultation are undertaken as quite clearly outlined within both the Kimberley LNG Precinct – Scope of the Strategic Assessment document and the Social Impact Assessment document.?

Red hand has been informed that should the general public seek to comment on the issues we have identified in the Scope and Profile document we can provisionally attend the DSD offices in Broome between the hours of 2 -6pm on Thursday, 17th September.

According to the Kimberley LNG Precinct – Scope of the Strategic Assessment
Page 179

13 Stakeholder ConsultationStakeholder consultation is an integral component of the environmental assessment and approvals process.
In accordance with the industry guidelines for community involvement (DoE 2003), throughout the assessment process, the aims of stakeholder consultation include:

• Inform stakeholders of the proposed project;
• Maximise the level of accurate and accessible information about the project to
affected communities;
• Provide adequate time for stakeholders to consider and engage in meaningful
dialogue on the project;
• Identify and attempt to resolve potential issues early in the planning process;
• Record stakeholder concerns and ensure response is provided to address concerns;
• Obtain mutually acceptable outcomes on the project.

A comprehensive consultation program was undertaken throughout the Site Selection Process (NDT 200d). A consultation program will continue throughout the assessment process as a two-way flow of communication between government as the Precinct Proponent, industry Proponents and stakeholders. This will assist in identifying significant environmental and social issues and will enable an open, transparent and comprehensive exchange of information and views.

The consultation program will meet the aims as discussed above ensuring that people are being kept informed of development plans and decisions and enable them to contribute input.

13.2 Key stakeholders

The stakeholder consultation program will involve engagement with a range of stakeholders, including indigenous and non-indigenous organizations, and will include the following main groups:

• Members of the public;
• Conservation groups;
• Non-government organizations;
• Tourism Operators;
• Aquaculture Industry;
• Broome Community;
• Education/Academic Institutions;
• State, Commonwealth and Local Government Departments;
• Project Proponents and other industry groups; and
• Traditional Aboriginal owners and other indigenous groups.

Kimberley LNG Precinct – Scope of the Strategic Assessment
Page 180

A preliminary list of stakeholders has been prepared (Appendix K). This list includes (but is not limited to) people and organizations who are likely to have an interest in the Kimberley LNG Precinct or who may be affected by the proposal.

13.3 Consultation ProgramStakeholder consultation will be a continuing activity for the Kimberley LNG Precinct.

The consultation program will be framed around key milestones for the assessment, and be provided by various means including briefings, community meetings, published material, web sites and other communication methods appropriate to the target audience.

According to the Social Impact Assessment that was released last week section

2.5.3. Community Consultation Community consultation is an ongoing component of the social impact assessment and continues through all phases of the process. Stakeholders include local, State and Commonwealth Government, local service providers, local interest groups, local business, Aboriginal groups and their representatives and community members.

A community consultation plan, incorporating existing and planned activities has been developed to ensure continual disclosure of information to the community and to facilitate community engagement with the SIA.

Broome Shire
Meanwhile the Broome Shire is holding a two day exhibit/presenter Forum for Friday 18thSeptember 2009 and Saturday 19 September 2009.

The proposed format for the two day forum to be held at the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre is as follows:
Friday 18 September 1000 – 1700 (displays)
Saturday 19 September 0900 – 1630 (displays)
Saturday 19 September 1030 – 1230 (presentations)
So the only time we as a community have is 2 hours in which we can question, enquire, understand and make inform assessments of a proposal that will change our community, our brand, our values and our future forever.

IN Parliament last week this was reintegrated that Extract from uncorrected Hansard
[COUNCIL - Wednesday, 12 August 2009]
Hon Robin Chapple; Hon Norman Moore


742. Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE to the Leader of the House representing the Minister for State

I refer to the Kimberley liquefied natural gas precinct scope of the strategic assessment produced by the
Department of State Development, page 180, section 13.1.consultation program.and table 13.1.key
milestones for consultation.
(1) What methods were used to consult the general public about the scoping document for the strategic
assessment, as mentioned in table 13.1?
(2) What meetings or presentations have been offered to the general public for their input into the scoping
document for the strategic assessment, as mentioned in table 13.1?
(3) Has the scoping document for the strategic assessment been made available on websites, as mentioned
in table 13.1?
(4) If yes to (3), which are the relevant websites?
<010> E/3
(5) Has the scoping document for the strategic assessment document been made available to the general
public, as mentioned in table 13.1?
(6) If yes to (5), how and where?

Hon NORMAN MOORE replied:
I thank the member for some notice of this question.
(1)-(6) The terms of reference and guidelines for a report assessing the impacts of the plan for the Browse
Basin liquefied natural gas precinct were released for public comment in February 2008. This was in
accordance with the strategic assessment agreement entered into between the state and federal
governments in February 2008. A draft of the scoping document prepared subsequent to that public
consultation process was released to key environmental and industry stakeholders for comment in May
2009. The scoping document will be published on the Department of State Development website once
tenders have been called for the completion of the report. The consultative process for preparation of
the strategic assessment report is ongoing and includes analysis of environmental, economic and social
aspects of the development. Public forums are scheduled for mid-September. In accordance with the
agreed strategic assessment agreement process, the draft assessment report will be made available for
formal public comment when completed. In the interim, regular community updates on the project are
being published in the Broome Advertiser on a fortnightly basis, and relevant material is being
published on the Department of State Development website.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

LNG is just another dirty fossil fuel

It is a great concern to Redhanded that the general public are being totally mislead about LNG being a clean fuel. Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG is just another dirty fossil fuel. It is produced by compressing and cooling natural gas to very low temperatures of about -160°C (-260°F). Natural gas is a combustible gas consisting mainly of methane (over 80% in volume) with varying quantities of ethane, propane, butane, nitrogen, and helium. Methane is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, second only to carbon dioxide, and is about 21 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. LNG has 35% higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal .

Its principal uses are for fuel and for the production of chemical products such as fertilizers and plastics. In liquid state, natural gas occupies a volume about 600 times smaller than in gas state. Liquefying it makes it possible to transport it across great distances by ship or truck, allowing it to be extracted from countries that have natural gas resources and sold in countries that need it for their consumption. All of these steps leads to indirect environmental impacts, such as carbon dioxide emissions from changing from gas to liquid and then back again.

It is a major environmental concern over the LNG proliferation is that the billions of dollars now being invested into the LNG importation schemes will continue to delay - for decades - the necessary development of safe sustainable renewable energy sources.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dampier Pennsula is burning

Country is burning, most of the western side of the Dampier Peninsula is on fire. Just south of James Price Point heading south west and fuelled by south easterlies and heading towards the coast. It is understood that the Department of Environment and Conservation believe these fires have been deliberately lit. Fires have been started the whole length of the Peninsular along the Cape Leveque Road. Redhand raised an eyebrow last week when it was observed on the Firenorth website that there was a sprinkling of fires on the southern eastern end of Coulomb Point Nature Reserve, a very inaccessible location with no access roads, difficult walking environment and certainly no lightning strike in the middle of the dry.