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15 December 2010 - Save wild and sacred Australia from oil and gas exploration      

SAVE WILD AND SACRED AUSTRALIA FROM OIL AND GAS EXPLOITATION

Protect the Kimberley: Global Statement of Concern
 
15 December 2010 
 

To the State Government of Western Australia, the Federal Government of Australia and oil and gas corporations seeking to exploit the fossil fuel resources of the Kimberley.

The conservation non-governmental organizations listed below are writing to convey our strong support for the recognition of the Kimberley region of northwestern Australia, an area as large as California (and three times the size of England), as one of the planet’s last great intact marine and terrestrial environments.

We strongly oppose plans for the large scale destructive and polluting industrialization of the region as proposed by the current Western Australian State government, the Federal Resources Minister and some major energy and mining corporations.

In particular, we recommend against development of a massive polluting gas refinery and industrial port at James Price Point on the Kimberley coast, 50 kilometers north of Broome- the first of potentially many similar projects.

The ‘Browse LNG Joint Venture’, involving Woodside Petroleum, Chevron, Shell, BP and BHP Billiton, is proposing to construct the refinery for processing gas from the offshore Browse Basin field.
Green sea turtle at James Price Point in the Kimberly.

This project, if approved, would have severe and irreversible impacts on a range of unique and threatened species and pristine natural ecosystems and severely impact the social fabric and economic future of the region.

Some of the species, communities and values at risk if the refinery is approved include: 

  • The nursery area and calving grounds of the world’s largest population of humpback whales;
  • Up to five species of marine turtles including the endemi, Australian flatback marine turtle as well as greens and hawksbills;
  • Endangered dugong and the rare, endemic Snubfin dolphin;
  • Seagrass beds and unique coral, sponge and filter-feeder communities;
  • Threatened remnant rainforest (‘monsoon vine thicket’) patches;
  • Internationally significant records of dinosaur footprints;
  • Aboriginal songlines of immense cultural value.

 

Other impacts of this development include:

  • Massive freshwater use, potentially draining local aquifers;
  • Dredging of millions of tonnes of seabed each year to establish and maintain a shipping channel for LNG tankers;
  • 7+ million tonnes per annum of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Continuous and unavoidable marine and atmospheric pollution of a pristine environment;
  • The risk of major oil spills and other toxic accidents similar to the Montara oil spill disaster of the north Kimberley coast and the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe;
  • Major social and economic impacts on the communities of Broome and the Dampier Peninsula.

 

If this industrial development occurs on the Kimberley coast, it would provide the ‘green light’ for other polluting industries to target the region’s coal and coal seam gas, bauxite and uranium deposits.

There are few places left on earth as large and intact as the Kimberley. The ecological, scientific and sustainable economic values of one of the least impacted, naturally functioning ecosystems left on the planet are comparable with areas such as the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef. Australia, as wealthy country with a diversified economy, can well afford to protect the Kimberley and its still healthy, functioning ecosystems on behalf of the global community, and derive long term social and economic benefits from such protection.





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