Australian Greens Marine Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert has expressed concern that information is still not available on the amount of various chemical dispersants used during the Montara oil spill
Senator Siewert has used Senate Estimates to raise questions about the dispersant chemicals used on the Montara oil spill off the West Australian coast.
Two chemicals from the Corexit family, the dispersants Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A were used on Montara and are being used in huge volumes in the Gulf of Mexico. Corexit is already banned in parts of Europe including the UK.
The US Environmental Protection Agency last week ordered BP to find alternatives to the dispersant chemicals it was using on the Louisiana slick after public concerns were raised over the toxicity of the dispersants.
“I find it incredible that we still don’t know how much of each specific dispersant was used on the Montara oil spill. At Estimates yesterday AMSA were still unable to tell us how much of each chemical was used, this information hasn’t been available to the Montara inquiry either,” Australian Greens Marine Spokesperson Rachel Siewert said today.
“This impacts the ability to asses the real environmental impact of Montara,” Senator Siewert said.
“I’m concerned about the way decisions are made on when, where and which dispersants are used by Australian authorities. I believe that he process for determining the toxicology of dispersants needs to be reviewed and that our environmental authorities should be involved in that decision making.
“Dispersant chemicals help the oil to move down through the water column. They can play an important role in protecting our coastline or key environmental assets like Ashmore reef – but there is also quite serious risks involved in their widespread use, particularly at a time when the fish and coral are spawning.
“The safety of these chemicals is in dispute – Corexit is banned in parts of Europe and questions have been raised over its use in the Gulf of Mexico.
“While each spill has different management needs depending on its size and location, the ongoing environmental concerns over Corexit in the US, coupled with the European bans should be raising a big red flag here at home.
“Over 185,000 litres of various dispersant chemicals have been used on the Montara spill, it is critical that all the information pertaining to these chemicals is forthcoming, and application processes given the necessary review and assessment.
“We may not know for some years if the dispersants, or the oil, have had an impact on recruitment in key fish stocks in our northwest fishery, given their particular vulnerability during their larval phase.
“There are major changes needed to the regulation and compliance monitoring of the oil and gas industry and the way we respond to disasters in our marine environment – I look forward to the release of the report by Montara Commission of Inquiry,” Senator Siewert concluded.
Senator Rachel Siewert
Australian Greens Senator for WA
P: (08) 9228 3277 | www.greensmps.org.au
27052010 MEDIA RELEASE – Questions unanswered over Montara dispersants as toxicity concerns grow.doc