Friday, October 16, 2009

The worst oil spill in Australia's history

It is eight weeks to the day since oil started leaking uncontrollably from the West Atlas drill rig in the Timor Sea, almost 3000 tonnes of oil are estimated to have polluted the ocean. This is one of the worst oil spills in Australia's history. The company responsible, PTTEP, has failed to cap the leak and failed to meet their promises of stopping the spill within 6-8 weeks, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

"Eight weeks, almost 3000 tonnes of oil and one failed promise later and still this toxic spill continues. While industry is hurrying to play down the impact of this disaster on the environment, public patience with the polluters is wearing very thin," said Darren Kindleysides, AMCS Director.

"The West Atlas spill has become a dirty stain on Australia's environmental reputation," he continued. "Over the last eight weeks we have learned three things: there is no such thing as risk free oil and gas production at sea; when things go wrong they go badly wrong; and our oceans are woefully under-protected from the oil and gas industry."

"We welcome the agreement between the company and Government to monitor the impacts of this spill for two years, but it cannot be described as a long-term program. The effects of major oil spills elsewhere in the world have been felt by wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment over a decade after the incidents. To begin to get a handle on the legacy of damage left by the West Atlas disaster, we will need monitoring to be funded for at least five years," concluded Kindleysides.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society is calling on the Australian Government to:

1. Protect the most important areas for marine wildlife by establishing large marine sanctuaries, setting these areas aside from oil and gas exploration.

2. Place a moratorium on opening up any more areas for oil and gas exploration until the current marine bioregional planning process is complete.

3. Ensure, under the polluter pays principle, that PTTEP foot the bill for at least five years, and preferably ten, monitoring the impacts of this spill on our ocean wildlife.

1 comment:

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