Monday, September 28, 2009

Whales & Oil Spill off the Kimberley Coast

Here's a link to channel 7's story on the whales on their Sunday Night programme - visually a great story which also brings up the oil slick and the gas hub.

The environment group WWF says dolphins and other marine animals are swimming around in oil leaking from a rig off the north-west Australian coast.

Oil has been leaking from the West Atlas oil rig in the Timor Sea since at least August 21.

WWF representative Gilly Llewellyn says she is aboard a WWF boat close to the oil slick.

She says there are lots of fish and other animals in the area, which are coming into contact with the oil.

"I'm glad that we're literally not seeing lots of dead animals," she said.

"But at the same time we are seeing animals now in the area affected by the slick.

"These animals are likely to be exposed to continuing levels of toxicity that potentially has long-term effects."

Ms Llewellyn says the boat has been moving in and out of oily patches in the area for two days.

"The stuff we're seeing and the stuff we're bringing back is waxy, it's almost like hard cheese or like the hardened wax you get on a chicken soup when the fat hardens," she said.

"This stuff is going to be around for a long time. So we need to sort of shatter the myth that there's not a problem out here."

The company that owns the rig says it is still trying to stop the flow of the oil and the Federal Government says there is no evidence of environmental damage.

Whales on the Kimberley Coast

Here's a link to channel 7's story on the whales on their Sunday Night programme - visually a great story which also brings up the oil slick and the gas hub.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Shire of Broome's Kimberley LNG Precinct

The Shire of Broome held a Community Forum on the proposed Kimberley LNG Precinct at James Price Point. Presentations, which were limited to ten minutes were presented by the WA Department of State Development, KLC, Environs Kimberley, The Wilderness Society, Save the Kimberley, Woodside, Broome Chamber of Commerce, Broome Port Authority, Broome International Airport and others about the impacts and the opportunities and what is actually planned at James Price Point. Approximately 180 - 200 members of the community attended however, many expressed their disappointment about not being able to raise questions or pass comment within the forum.

There are now three videos uploaded, please take the time to download.

Regards Red

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kimberley LNG Open Public Forum No fanfare.

The Kimberley LNG Open Public Forum held today in Broome opened without a Welcome to Country from Traditional Owners and no fanfare from the WA Department of State Development.
The Forum was the first public open forum held by the State Government on the Kimberley LNG Precinct proposed for James Price Point. This forum is part of the Social Impact Assessment currently being undertaken.

Redhand encourages you to read the post this morning about the Tourism Impact Assessment Report which was released yesterday by the Western Australian Department of State Development.

Tourism Impact Assessment Report Released

The Tourism Impact Assessment Report was released yesterday. Red Hand has skimmed the Report in order to compiled a quick summary, raise questions and highlight a few of our concerns.

The purpose of the Tourism Impact Assessment was to report on the potential negative and positive impacts of the proposed construction and ongoing operation of the proposed LNG Precinct in the vicinity of James Price Point on the tourism industry in Broome and the West Kimberley region.

This Report has illustrated that the consultants have no understanding of the social fabric underlays of the Broome community. The report does not acknowledge or have any insight into the people or the community that committed themselves and built a viable tourism industry, over many years, out of hard work and little to no support from the State Government. Now, just when the Broome Brand is branded they wish to dismiss all this effect and expense to impose an industry that will completely destroy all this hard dedicated work and write off people’s personal and business dreams as inconsequential.

This Report does exactly what the project proponent to the project, the State Government wanted it to achieve, it mitigates the negative impacts by placing responsibility back onto the Broome community and the Shire to manage, and capitalises on peoples economic insecurities to promote unproven positive impacts?

Why does this Report push a line that Broome is not part of the real or true Kimberley?

Why didn’t this Impact Assessment consult with or refer to the Jabirr Jabbirr, Goolarabooloo and Yawuru groups about the Assessment, the consultation process and or Report.?

Why was the vital Entertainment Industry, a very valued contributor to the Broome tourism coddled into the Report under the section titled food providers/entertainment?

Why was there no mention or recognition of Broome’s Music, Arts and Film industries in the whole report? No appreciation or understanding of how these industries contributed to the development of and totally underpinned Broome's tourist brand. It was these industries that first drew attention to Broome, it was these industries that projected Broome out onto the national and international stage. And this industry continues to do so to this very day.

Why was the length of time people have lived in Broome, so significant in the Report’s findings? If these factors were so imperative why haven’t the locals, who were born and bred in Broome been consulted, included or considered in this Impact Assessment?

Why does this report use the same language as the Social Impact Assessment and the same cut & pasts approach and many of the previous Reports, NDT, Scope, Social Assessment Vol 1, when it was undertaken by private consultants?

Why hasn’t this report looked at the four different development scenarios?
1 – no development,
2 – Low Case,
3 – Medium and
4 – High case?

Why were the consultants compiling this report under the same direction as the KLC, who are currently undertaking the Cultural/Heritage SIA:- "to mitigate and manage the negative impacts and capitalise on any positive impacts?"

As part of this study, 100 Broome residents were required to be interviewed to quantify the perceptions of the resident population in terms of the impact of a proposed LNG Precinct at James Price Point.

A survey was sent out, and many Broome people responded to it, believing it to be a bona fide residential survey, believing that their opinions were finally being sort and that this Survey was open to all Broome's residents to respond.

Survey Invitations sent = 254
Responses = 612
Verified Responses44 = 119 (46.9%)

However, according to the Report, 612 participant’s surveys were not included in the final analysis.

“It became evident within the first couple of days of the questionnaires being distributed that recipients who felt strongly about this issue would forward it to others who shared the same concerns. As noted above, over 600 responses were received of which only 119 were returned with a unique survey number that had been generated when the invitations were sent. Only those surveys having a system-generated, unique, source code were included in the final analysis. It is interesting to note that of the 493 unverified responses returned, 2 were supportive of the LNG Precinct development while 491 were strongly opposed".

If a Survey has the ability to draw such a strong community inquisitiveness and trepidation then surely this response needs serious analysis and should not be dismissed so readily or with such condescension.

This was one of the questions in the Residents Survey: The anti gas lobby is doing more harm to tourism than the LNG Precinct would ever create . How is this type of questioning acceptable or relevant in a Tourism Impact Assessment?

Is the Broome Shire fully aware of how busy as they are going to be because they are listed as the major driver in managing the mitigating impacts?

Why does the Report try to perpetuate a myth of division and competition between the East and West Kimberley?

“The “no gas” lobby is expressing opinions without having all the facts. Some basic information needs to be published sooner rather than later, otherwise tourists may see the gas plant as a negative” The No Gas lobby have been saying exactly this “there is no facts out there, no information has been made available, workshops have been closed, dubious survey spend around town, Master Plans hidden for the public, and invested interest groups driving the format, process and outcomes of the Report’s findings.

“The Shire needs to be far more proactive in taking a lead role to ensure that Broome leverages the infrastructure it needs to support the town and the tourism industry” On what grounds, on what findings, on who’s say was this statement supported and how was this verified?

This report was submitted to the Government in June why has this report taken so long to be released?

Has the State Government made any changes or spin doctored the original report?

Tourism Assessment Report, P. 18
5: Residents Survey 81 | P a g e
Section 5: Residents Survey P a g e 92
Appendices 193 | P a g e
Appendices 193 | P a g e

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kimberley LNG precinct James Price Point Open Public Forum


If you would like to speak one-on-one to DSD staff about the social impact assessment, members of the public are also welcome to attend an open office event at the Broome office of the Department of State Development, upstairs in Woody’s Arcade on Dampier Terrace. Call the Department on 9222 0555 for more info.

Over 200 redhands floated in the breeze at the Broome Courthouse Markets this morning, invitations to the Western Australian Department of State Development - KIMBERLEY LNG PRECINCT Open Public Forum in its office on Dampier Terrace Chinatown Broome in the afternoon of the 17th September. The Department has provided an opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions and get information about the Kimberley LNG precinct at James Price Point.

Questions on the redhands included:
How much will the airport traffic and noise increase with the fly in and fly out proposal?
How do you measure quality of lifestyle?
Why hasn’t the Social Impact Assessment looked at the precinct development scenarios equally?
Why does the Broome community have to continue to suffer the noise from the airport with only the promise of more to come?
What will this proposed LNG development do for my “sense of place”?
What will be the effect of the blasting on whales?
Will light emissions interfere with our stargazing?
Do you think your Community Consultation has provided clear, accurate and relevant information with the Broome community
If we lost Cable Beach to an oil spill do you think it would affect our tourist industry?
What are you going to do about the helicopter noise?
Will light emissions interfere with our stargazing?
Will my mum and dad be able to camp at Quondong for their annual holidays, like they have been for years?
What will happen to Willie Creek Pearl Farm?
How much groundwater will be extracted and where will it come from?
Where is the Master Plan for the Kimberley LNG Precinct?
Will we get extra police?
Can the Broome hospital cope in an emergency explosion or accident?
Why did you have to get an invitation to attend a “sense of place” workshop?
Who and how will you measure soil contamination?
What is a hydrocarbon processing facility?
How will you measure dust emissions during construction and operation?
Who and how will you measure groundwater contamination?
How do you stop tankers crashing into whales?
What happens if a cyclone comes and blows away the proposed LNG precinct, would you build it again?

Also seen at the markets today, a Save the Kimberley yellow flier about the Shire of Broome's LNG Forum-James Price Point all day Friday and Saturday 18 and 19 September

At last!!!!!!!!!!! work starts to try and stem river of oil

The company responsible for an oil spill in the Timor Sea says final preparations are being made to stop the leak.

For three weeks oil from an uncapped drilling hole has been spilling into the sea off the Kimberley coast at a rate of about 300 to 400 barrels a day.

The spill in the Montara oil field has been sprayed with dispersants but so far there have been no attempts to stop the leak.

PTTEP Australasia says a relief oil rig from Singapore is now in place and preparations are being made to stem the oil flow.

Workers at the scene plan to drill a new hole to intersect the oil leak from two kilometres away and stop the flow by injecting mud.

The process is expected to start in the next two days.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Timor Sea Drilling Spill Covers 2,500 Square Miles

Montara Oil Well Blowout and Spill - Location Map on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
SkyTruth click in this link for photos.

SkyTruth obtained a full-resolution version of the NASA /MODIS satellite image taken on August 30, 2009, nine days after the blowout and spill began from the Montara offshore oil platform in the Timor Sea off Western Australia. We did some additional processing to enhance features in the ocean, and discovered that slicks and sheen extended even further to the northeast than we thought a few days ago. We've uploaded two new MODIS images to our growing online gallery of this event: one is simply the MODIS imagery with no annotation; the other is the same chunk of imagery with SkyTruth's analysis.

NASA/MODIS satellite image, August 30, 2009, with SkyTruth analysis click in this link for photos
Montara Spill - MODIS Detail (with interpretation), August 30, 2009 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

This image shows that oil slicks and sheen from the blowout had already spread across 2,500 square miles of ocean by August 30. And it will take several weeks, possibly months, before this well can be controlled.

Thanks to Jesse Allen at NASA and the MODIS Rapid Response Team for providing the original MODIS image.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Yes they swim past James Price Point,"

Western Australia's Premier Colin Barnett says he will do all he can to protect whales from being affected by a gas development in the Kimberley.

Green groups say an aerial survey has recorded large numbers of humpback whales near James Price Point.

The area, 60 kilometres north of Broome, has been selected by the WA Government as the best place to locate a processing hub for gas taken from the Browse Basin.

Environmentalists have been campaigning against LNG developments being located on the Kimberley coast.

The Wilderness Society, the Conservation Council, and Environs Kimberley say James Price Point should not be an industrial site.

Campaigner Richard Costin organised the aerial survey.

"Over a two-hour flight, we recorded about 102 pods, which represented 162 individual whales, which is one of the highest concentrations anywhere in the world," he said.

"I think that Colin Barnett and also the Federal Government and (Federal Environment Minister) Peter Garrett need to really carefully consider what's going on here.

"They need to actually do a lot more comprehensive studies in the area, probably over the next couple of years, before they actually jump in and make any decision on putting an industrial complex there at James Price Point."

Mr Costin says the companies involved in the Browse Basin should be seriously considering processing gas offshore.

"The best option for developing the gas is to move on to floating LNG technology," he said.

"At the moment Shell are actually considering that for their Prelude Field and a number of other operators around the world are now looking at floating LNG as the best option."

Mr Barnett says it is not surprising to have a large number of humpback whales in the area.

"The whale population migrating up the Western Australian coast is one of the great whale migrations on the planet," he said.

"There are 22,000 whales doing that trip backwards and forwards each year. The numbers I'm advised, are increasing at about 10 per cent per year."

Mr Barnett says the Government will not allow any development at James Price Point to bring harm to the whales. He says whales can be seen off many other industrial sites.

"Yes they swim past James Price Point," he said.

"They swim past Geraldton. They swim past Kwinana. They swim past Bunbury. They go up and down the coast every year and we will ensure that they are not in any way adversely impacted by the development on shore of an LNG precinct at James Price Point."

North Head was considered as a site for the LNG hub but was knocked back because of a high concentration of whales. Mr Barnett says James Price Point will be the location.

"James Price Point, on environmental grounds, on isolation from communities, on offshore and onshore geological and technical conditions, is clearly the best location," he said.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whales Dance at James Price Point too

Over the weekend, 162 humpback whales were sighted off the Kimberley coast at James Price Point, the proposed location for the development of the massive LNG industry in Western Australia and is to escalate tensions.

An aerial survey last weekend by the Wilderness Society recorded the huge number of whales, including bulls and cows with their calves, in more than 100 separate pods off James Price Point.

The Point, a pristine wilderness 60 kilometres north of Broome, is a proposed site for a new LNG processing hub for Woodside's Browse Basin gas fields. The West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, announced the site last December after an earlier location, North Head, was rejected partly because of its importance to the whales which travel between the Antarctic and the Kimberley coast.

Each year between July and November, thousands of humpbacks mate and give birth in the waters off the Kimberley. Until now, there has been a dispute over whether the waters off James Price Point were part of their route.

Richard Costin, who organised the survey for the Wilderness Society, said that based on recent research ''there is no doubt that the area around James Price Point is at least as significant for humpback whales as other sites that have been considered unsuitable for industrial development due to whale activity''.

"The whale population migrating up the WA coast is one of the great whale migrations on the planet ...... 220,000 whales do that trip each year," Mr Barnett said. "They go up and down the coast and we will ensure they are not in any way adversely impacted by the development onshore of an LNG precinct at James Price Point." more by Colin Barnett WA today