Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Gas – Yes Water!

Statue of Achilles thniskon (dying) at the Corfu Achilleion.

Do Broome residents and the communities on the Dampier Peninsula really understand how water is the Achilles' heel of the proposed world’s largest LNG refinery being landed at James Price Point?

Are the Broome and Dampier communities aware that currently, millions of litres of water, directly from the Broome Bore-fields are being barged by Mermaid Supply Base to Barrow Island for the Gorgon Project?

The Company, apparently purchased a barge in Singapore earlier this year for the purpose of carting our Broome water. Round trips from Broome to Barrow Island on a fortnightly basis are being undertaken in order to meet the shortfall of the Water Corporation in the Pilbara.

Broome’s water supply is being moved through the Broome Port Authority, which is supplied by the Water Corporation and monitored by the WA Department of Water. Recent correspondence with the Broome Port Authority clearly states that the Broome bore-fields are currently carrying the additional stress of providing the Water Corporation in the Pilbara with water because there is a major water shortage. There is no water available for one of the largest industrial zones in Australia. (Refer to sidebar opposite.)

Are the Broome's bore-fields going to have to bear the stress of providing additional water not only to the proposed world's largest LNG refinery to be located south of James Price Point, (This is expected to use up to 51,oooML when in production according to DSD’s Browse Liquefied Natural Gas Precinct Infrastructure Assessment Study, page 18.) but also the world’s second biggest refinery being built at Barrow Island for Gorgon?

Gorgon is still in its very early construction stages of infrastructure development and already there is a need to embezzle water from the Kimberley, surely this should be ringing alarm bells across our Nation, our State, our region and our local communities? It also raises very serious questions about the Federal Government’s Department for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities lack of capacity and professional foresight not to have identified that water (like everywhere else in Australia ) is going to be a major issue for these massive industrial projects.

“The complexity and scale of Gorgon are unprecedented — a long-term, technically challenging, complex energy development exemplifying a dramatic advancement of engineering know-how and environmental stewardship.” However, after all the fanfare and the adjective packed language, the fact of the matter is that major DOUBTS have emerged because the giant $50 billion Gorgon gas project has NO WATER.

“More than AUD$20 billion has been awarded in Gorgon contracts including the fabrication and assembly of the main LNG modules, construction of the 2.1km LNG jetty and marine structures, LNG tanks construction and offshore pipe lay. Other contracts awarded include the Construction Village, Initial accommodation, general utilities, telecommunications, site preparation and site development.” But they still have no water.

The Project’s foundation Joint Venture Participants – Chevron (approximately 47%) ExxonMobil (25 percent) Shell had (25%) and the three new participants: Osaka Gas (1.25%), Tokyo Gas (1%) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417%). But they still have no water. Are these joint venture participants’ bankers or their shareholders aware that there is no water for their investments?

Consider the Department of Water’s own report[1] Improved groundwater resource management through better groundwater monitoring. A review of groundwater monitoring, April 2009 Volume 1.


(Please note that direct quotes from the above mentioned report are highlighted in red) This report clearly states

"Demand for groundwater is increasing in Broome for irrigated horticulture and town water supply". The location of Broome on a peninsula requires careful, ongoing management of groundwater resources to prevent saltwater intrusion. [2]

4.6.2 Current monitoring
The level of groundwater monitoring by the Kimberley Region is not adequate for current needs. Given the sensitivity of the Broome groundwater area to potential saltwater intrusion, it is a concern that this groundwater resource is not being monitored.

4.6.3 Gaps
The level of groundwater monitoring by the Kimberley Region is not adequate for current needs. Given the sensitivity of the Broome groundwater area to potential saltwater intrusion, it is important this groundwater resource is better monitored. For the past year, there has been no groundwater monitoring of the 22 bores in the Broome groundwater area due to no dedicated funding for groundwater monitoring. In contrast, current monitoring of the Ord Irrigation Scheme is considered adequate for groundwater management purposes.

Outside of the main abstraction areas, there is no recommended groundwater monitoring program. It will be necessary for a comprehensive review of potential groundwater monitoring bores and assessing the need for any additional regional
groundwater monitoring.[3]

4.6.4 Recommended monitoring
It is highly recommended that groundwater monitoring of all regional monitoring bores at Broome is resumed as soon as possible.

Given these facts and recommendations from the Department of Water’s own report, how is it that the Broome Bore-fields (already affected by saltwater intrusions) are now being called upon to top up the Water Corporations’ short fall in the Pilbara?

What is this shortfall and how did this situation come about?

Why does the Kimberley Region’sl Department of Water have no understanding of these activities?

Why doesn’t the Water Corporation in Perth have any answers to questions like: how much water is being provided from the Broome Bore-fields to the Gorgon project?

How much water are the Broome Bore-fields providing to the thousands of drilling rigs and platforms operating out in the North West Shelf and the Browse Basin’s oil and gas fields?

When, how and who approved this carriage of Broome water to the Gorgon project ?

Why are we told to turn off our sprinklers and not wash our cars when millions and millions of water is shipped out of our bore-fields surreptitiously, and without question?

Why is there a shortfall of water in the Pilbara anyway? Research suggests to Redhand that given the current recorded saturation of benzene emissions in the Pilbara and given the facts that benzene can: quickly evaporate into the air, be carried over long distances, attach to water particles, be released into soil, break down quickly and contaminate groundwater it is obvious that the Pilbara groundwater would also be saturated with benzene BTEX, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

In 2008, there was no groundwater monitoring undertaken in the Pilbara. There are a large number of potential monitoring bores installed throughout the region; however, a lack of dedicated funding and a recommended program for groundwater monitoring has seen little to no groundwater measurement undertaken in the past five years.

There is no monitoring being carried out in the Pilbara on groundwater, Redhand suspects that there is no monitoring of toxins within these precious groundwater sources either.

It is totally incomprehensible. How could the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities sign off on the Gorgon project without any Water Management Plan being submitted or any real clear understanding of how this massive industrial refinery was going to access water ? Why didn’t the Federal Government comprehend WA’s Environmental Protection Authority’s opposition to the Gorgon project because they had identified major environmental flaws in the whole concept?

How convenient that Barrow Island is exempt from the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, which governs the regulation of water resources in Western Australia?

4.5.3 Gaps

There is no current groundwater monitoring by the North West (Pilbara) Region. This is not considered appropriate or suitable for groundwater management requirements. There is a need to fully assess the condition of monitoring bores and address access problems. The focus of this should initially be at Millstream and selected alluvial aquifers along the Pilbara Coast.

4.5.4 Recommended monitoring

In order to resume groundwater monitoring, it is recommended that 17 monitoring bores at Robe and Fortescue Rivers are initially monitored twice per year. This monitoring data will support existing Water Smart projects being undertaken to support the development of a future statutory management plan. There are another potential 84 bores (including 10 bore at Millstream and 32 bores in the West Canning Basin) that can be added to improve the network.

How much water has been provided to the Water Corporation in the Pilbara from the Broome Bore-fields, through the Port of Broome?

Where is this water unloaded?

Where is it being stored?

What is this water being used for?

How is this water being used or monitored?

How much water has been provided to the oil and gas industries through the Broome Port over the last three years?

How much more water is going to be provided to the Gorgon project? And for how long will this unacceptable and highly questionable situation continue?

Water is and will be the deadly weakness for the WA State Government and Woodside et al. In spite of their overall strength, the multinationals might flex their muscle with their dollars, their technical fabrication and their spin and the power that dictatorial governments think they have, it will be water or more importantly the lack of and quality of water which will lead to their inevitable downfall. Let’s hope that their madness will not be at the expense of our water, our environment and the future health of following generations.

While the mythological origin of Achilles' heel refers to a physical vulnerability, in this case water, it is people and their human attributes of survival that will eventually lead to the destruction of the energy intensive lunacy that continues to justify the notion of planting yet another CO2 intensive gas refinery on our planet.

No Gas – Yes Water!

Improved groundwater resource management through better groundwater monitoring. A review of groundwater monitoring, April 2009 Volume 1


  1. i remember years ago going out to the tip,they had just excavated a new pit,they had dug down 5 metres and the bottom 2 metres was into the water table.In those days there was very little monitoring of what was being dumped.The animal pit and the medical pit were there in those days.One day i saw this pearling mob dump dozens of waste oil and fuel drums,all full,into the pit.Going back a bit further i recall western power having lots of old transformers rotting away out there.Yes the old ones with that super toxic chemical in them.Everything went in there.So there was rotting cattle,blood soaked god knows what in the medical pit,and every toxic brew under the sun going into the big pit.They never lined a single pit.Given the bores are just a few kilometres up the road,it's only a matter of time before this foul brew gets sucked out the ground,if it isn't already.How many swimming pools go in around Broome every week.After reading Redhands post i really do wonder how long before we have a disaster on our hands?

  2. You talk about disasters!In 1995 I worked as a labourer on the new sewerage ponds at the back of Clementson Street.One day the roller we had to compact the walls of the ponds broke down.The decision was made to continue building the walls WITHOUT COMPACTING THEM !About 5-6 years later we had a deluge and no doubt you remember what happened to the sewerage ponds.The walls burst and 200,000 cubic metres of shit flowed through the sand dune into Roebuck Bay!Doesn't do to cut corners in the Kimberley.

  3. Going way back the domestic tip was where Haynes oval is now,and the industrial tip was behind the vets where BRACS are now.You may have noticed the excavators have dug up what looks to be a couple of old tanks there.I recall having to dump some waste at the industrial tip one day and saw a transformer sticking out of the dirt in the pit.Some years after that the alert went out that the chemical in transformers was one of the deadliest cancer causing toxic chemicals ever invented.Not sure but I think it was used as a coolant.Careful where you dig.

  4. The Gillard government cannot let this project go ahead as they want to appear serious over emissions reduction targets and a price on carbon.The only chance they have of meeting their targets is by letting the companies backfill the NW Shelf with this very dirty Browse gas.And hope there is some advances in carbon capture technology.

  5. Well thank God the plan to bulldoze all the country from the coast to Fitzroy Crossing and plant cotton was defeated.Who the bloody hell do these crackpots think they are?One plan after the other to completely destroy all the country and everything in it.Cannot believe those dumb asses at the KLC are in there waving that poor old flag around!