Timor Sea Oil Spill Monitoring - Too Little Too Late

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29th October 2009, 06:25pm - Views: 463

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Timor Sea Oil Spill Monitoring - Too Little too Late

ADELAIDE, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

    Ten weeks into the uncontrolled and continuing oil and gas spill from the Montara wellhead, with anywhere

from 10 to 20 million litres of oil spilled into the ocean, conservationists have stopped pulling punches.

    In August, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) called for urgent, independent and

transparent monitoring. The Government and Industry West Atlas Monitoring Programme publicly released (15

October 2009) six weeks after the spill started belatedly initiates the gathering of basic biological data about

the species and ecosystems surrounding the rig while suggesting that the effects of oil spill on whales and

dolphins 'remains unlikely'. 

    WDCS questions why this monitoring was not in place before the operations began and how such

assumptions about impact are being made.

    "Marine animals can ingest oil-derived toxic compounds either directly from the water or with their food.

Poisonous vapors can also be inhaled by whales and dolphins and especially when the volatile components

evaporate into the air from freshly spilled oil" said Dr Mike Bossley, WDCS Australasian Managing Director.

"There will also be chronic longer-term effects of oil entering food-chain potentially affecting both them and

their prey. Much of this will happen far from sight and if whales or dolphins are killed or otherwise affected -

days, months and years into the future – we are unlikely to be witness to this."

    The Monitoring Programme provides no information that reports will be released publicly, no indication that

Indonesian biodiversity will be considered, nor any comment about what will be done once the programme

belatedly establishes that there is an impact.

    "It is shocking that ecosystem and wildlife monitoring around the rig wasn't in place to start with" said Dr

Bossley. "If the Australian Government is serious about mitigating the threats of oil spills they should

immediately freeze all new oil and gas exploration applications; develop much stronger conditions and controls

over all oil and gas rig and shipping activities; and identify and fully protect all cetacean critical habitats in a

network of marine sanctuaries before any oil and gas acreage is released again. The fox minding the

henhouse is not good enough."

    For media comment contact:

    Mike Bossley (WDCS Australia) +61(0)417824235

    Niki Entrup (WDCS Europe) +49-171-1423-117

    SOURCE: Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society


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