Friday, February 3, 2012

Has Woodside hit its price point on the environment? | Article | The Punch

Has Woodside hit its price point on the environment? | Article | The Punch: The Browse Basin gas hub development has stoked up so much opposition on so many fronts that many investors are now asking if the project is still economically viable, or if in fact Woodside’s ‘social licence’ to proceed has disappeared in the red dust that graces the Kimberley coastline.

Australian business is all too familiar with the impact strident community opposition can have on controversial major projects, yet some large corporations and investors continue to discount the importance of maintaining their social licence and protecting the environment.

Such a scenario is playing out right now in the Kimberley where, despite a National Heritage listing in August that declared an area almost the size of Victoria to be worthy of protection, Woodside continues to push its $30+ billion gas project at James Price Point in the face of escalating barriers and community opposition.

Time and time again corporate Australia thinks it can push against the tide of public concern to drive projects through. Yet time and time again these same proponents come up against insurmountable discontent that ultimately blocks projects and can result in massive losses to shareholder value.

Jaxon Barnes left a comment on this article says:

09:54am | 01/02/12

We are talking about the biggest Gas hub in the southern hemisphere…

The proposal includes many significant construction processes including the clearing of 2400 hectares (24 square kilometres) of Pindan Woodlands and extremely rare Monsoon Vine Thicket plant communities and the dredging of the proposed port area. Both of these processes are very ecologically damaging. It is worth noting that dredging would be a permanent process.
Environmental impacts associated with this proposed development include:
• Sediment: Dredging releases sediment into the marine environment which causes impacts on light-dependant organisms such as corals and sea grass by smothering the organisms and cutting off the light required for photosynthesis. Suspended sediments impact on filter feeding organisms such as oysters and sponges by clogging their feeding mechanisms, essentially starving the animals. Other organisms such as fish are impacted by the clogging of their gills. There is a 50km2 ‘dead zone’ caused by this marine pollution.
• Humpback Whales: The largest Humpback whale nursery on Earth lies between Broome and Camden Sound on the Kimberley coast. The Kimberley coast is crucial habitat for the Humpback whale, a protected species in Australia. The Kimberley population of whales is internationally significant.
• Fish: James Price Point has been identified as a fish aggregation area, though scientific information is limited. It is likely that future studies will identify fish breeding sites and the dredging and blasting of coral reefs will destroy habitat.
• Turtles: Five marine turtle species, including Australia’s own Flatback turtle, are found in the Kimberley. Studies have identified the James Price point region as an important feeding area for turtles and nesting has been recorded in the area, though survey effort has been insufficient to date to have a clear idea of the significance of the area as a nesting beach. It is known from elsewhere that light pollution and other impacts from this sort of development can impact on turtle hatchling survival.
• Coral: A coral reef province of global significance extends along the Kimberley coast. The James Price Point area is no exception and the area under threat from development is home to many beautiful and diverse coral species.
• Snubfin dolphins: are Australia’s unique dolphin species. This species has been recently discovered by science and the Kimberley is crucial habitat. The latest research has identified that Snubfin families appear to spend much of their lives in very small territories close to shore. This means Snubfin populations can be heavily impacted by habitat destruction and unsustainable development.
• Reef blasting: the diverse coral and other communities are threatened by the extensive blasting that would be required for port and channel construction.
• Breakwater: the breakwater proposed for the area could be as large as 7km long. Such a large structure would interrupt and change the local current flows, and damage the local ecosystem during construction with unpredictable impacts.
• Seismic pollution (e.g. blasting and ship noise) – studies have implicated seismic pollution in changing migratory and other behaviour and whale stranding events.
• Air pollution: Toxic air pollution from the gas hub would release gasses from flare towers and other operations including poisonous nitrogen and sulfur compounds known to have negative impacts of human and wildlife health.
• Sea pollution: Continuous pollution and degradation of the marine environment from drilling, dredging, shipping, and pipelines being laid along the ocean floor.
• Water: A huge amount of fresh water would be required for this project. This will come from groundwater or desalination. The use of groundwater will have negative impacts on the waterholes and vegetation of the region. Desalination is an energy (greenhouse) intensive process that also releases highly saline water and chemicals into the marine environment.
• Impacts on Scott Reef: Woodside plan to put the rig that will pump oil and gas to James Price Point on top of the environmentally important and beautiful Scott Reef.
But your right Stuff the environment or sustainable industries… lets just mine it all!

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