Oil Spills threaten Our Ark on Barrow Island

31 May 2011

Greens MLC Robin Chapple is aghast at revelations of the extent of persistent oil leaks and other environmental harm across Barrow Island.

“The Minister has admitted that Chevron has reported around 20 oil leaks across the island, from pipes discharging oil.”

“I’ve seen photos of oil-soaked sites, and they appear to be large oil leaks, capable of causing significant environmental damage.”

“Barrow Island’s unique and endangered fauna coming into contact with these spills will be at immediate risk.”

“Of greater concern, is the risk of ground water contamination, or damage to surrounding coral and marine environments. From the evidence I’ve seen it appears that oil has not been recovered before seeping into the surrounding environment”

“In a separate incident, a marine vessel received significant hull damage resulting in an engine oil leak. The vessel was beached on Barrow Island and then towed across to Dampier Port.”

“I’ve asked questions in Parliament about this matter – and it appears the Minister accepts Chevron’s explanation that all 150 litres of leaked oil was recovered. Having reviewed photos of the incident, this seems unlikely.”

“I hold serious concerns that the Department of Environment and Conservation is not capable of properly managing industry on Barrow Island – which is increasingly looking like the final destruction of Australia’s Ark”.

“Chevron reports that 1,027 animals have died on site. This is an appalling lack of regard for the standards required of Chevron, in order to obtain approvals for work on Barrow Island. The EPA’s concern that protocols would not adequately protect our species is clearly now shown to be correct”

“This total lack of environmental accountability shows the Barnett/Gryll Government’s failure to regulate industry safely in remote fragile environments”

“I will not let these issues go – it is critical that Chevron remediate the contaminated sites, and implement effective conservation practices on Barrow Island.”

Photos of the oil leaks on Barrow Island, and of the vessel leaking oil are available at http://www.robinchapple.com/qdata

Note: In July 2003 the Environmental Protection Authority opposed the use of Barrow Island as a gas hub. In September 2003 the Western Australian Government provided in-principle agreement to the joint venturers for restricted access to Barrow Island nature reserve for gas processing facilities, as a foundation for the development of the Gorgon gas fields. That decision required special conditions including:

• formal environmental impact assessment demonstrating that environmental factors can be managed without unacceptable impact on conservation values; and

• development of standards for acceptable management of risk to conservation values and a clear demonstration that they can be met with a very high level of confidence.

(Available at EPA Bulletin 1101 July 2003 & Bulletin 1221 June 2006)

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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