Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daring protest halts drilling and unmonitored extraction from aquifer at James Price Point‏

At 5:45am this morning a ‘protector’ perched atop a delicately balanced, 6m high bamboo pole has stalled works on the site of Woodside’s proposed gas hub at James Price Point (Walmadan) in the Kimberley.

Scott Daines, suspended atop the pole, is blocking access to Woodside’s drill pads. A banner hanging from the pole reads “Save Our Water: No Gas Hub at Walmadan”.

This dramatic action draws attention to Woodside’s preliminary works that has already seen extensive land clearing of the site of the proposed gas hub, and an onshore drilling survey.

“The water they’re taking now – up to 5,200L a day - is just the tip of the iceberg. If the gas plant goes ahead, as much as 21,000L of fresh water will be used[i], day in, day out. That would be a huge draw on groundwater sources the Broome Township relies on for its water supply,” Mr Daines said today.

The WA Department of State Development has admitted that impacts resulting from the physical presence of the gas hub could include reduction in recharge to the Broome Sandstone aquifer. They have reported the hydrogeology is little known: “the sensitivity of the groundwater unknown but likely to be high”

Goolarabooloo Senior Law man Phillip Roe said from the site of the protest, “The old people used to drink from this jila, this is the main water-hole since the beginning. If they take the water the stream will dry out and the vine-thickets will die – it is unacceptable.”

From atop the pole Scott Danes stated, “These are the lengths we will go to, to show our commitment to protecting sacred sites and precious water.”

“Water is just one more reason that Woodside’s gas hub must not go ahead. There are alternative sites to process the Browse Basin gas fields– such as the existing facilities in the Pilbara, or on floating platforms offshore. Woodside would be well advised to reconsider these alternatives - the resolve of this community will not waver in protecting the precious water, biodiversity and heritage values of this special place,” a spokesperson said from the site of the protest on Manari Road today.

At the same time, speculation that interest in alternative sites for processing the Browse gas is firming: analysis from investment bank Merrill Lynch suggested piping the Browse gas to existing infrastructure at Karratha would be a less risky solution for Woodside, and would be an option preferred by many of the joint venture partners.

For comment from Scott Daines (from the monopole): 0427 221 691

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