Australia ravaged by oil spill

An oil spill off the coast of Western Australia will take weeks to clean up, according to official estimates.

The spill took place at a drilling platform in the Timor Sea, about 250km off the coast on Friday, August 21 when unexpectedly high pressure in the Montara oil field caused a blow out.

The result was a huge spill that has angered environmentalists and Green politicians, with the incident fuelling calls for Environment Minister Peter Garrett to rule against industry proposals for a gargantuan gas project named Gorgon.

The Minister has gone on record as saying that this spill will not affect his decision on the project.

WWF has warned that increasing oil and gas activity in Australia’s North West is having a dangerous cumulative impact on some of the richest marine habitats on the planet.

“There is a very simple equation – the more we build, the higher the risk to marine species,” said Gilly Llewellyn, WWF-Australia’s conservation manager.

“Greater protection is needed for nesting beaches, migration routes and feeding grounds for these creatures.”

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have been using Hercules and other aircraft to dump huge quantities of dispersant chemicals on the slick while the owners of the affected drilling platform, PTTEP say they are likely to use heavy mud to plug the leak.

The company has indicated it could take up to seven weeks for the leak to be fully contained.

The AMSA have been working in consultation with British specialists who have endorsed the authority’s containment plan.

David Gibbs

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