What were you doing three weeks ago?
Nothing personal, but can you remember what you were doing on the 21st August?
Hold that date in your head. Ever since the 21st August oil, has been leaking from the offshore Montara oil platform in the Timor Sea off Western Australia. After a blow-out occurred the rig was evacuated of workers, but oil has been spewing ever since into the ocean.
Although the rig is only 250 km from shore – it has taken three weeks for a mobile offshore rig to be mobilised and arrive to try and plug the pollution. You have to wonder why PTTEP, Thailand’s only publicly traded oil exploration company and the operator of the rig has take so long to get its act together.
But just because the cavalry has arrived, don’t expect a miracle any time soon. It may take a further 50 days to stop the leak. So the pollution and oil slick will only grow.
Satellite images taken yesterday show an area of patchy slicks and oil sheen extending about 3,600 square miles (=2,700 nautical square miles) in size.
Although the spill is still out at sea, it could threaten Australia’s Kimberley coast, which is described as “one of the world’s last true wilderness areas.” The Australian Greens have said the area is a “marine superhighway,” with populations of baby turtles this time of year and a migratory route for whales.
As wildlife will inevitably be killed – you have to ask why, given the apparent sophistication of modern day offshore operations and spill response requirements, it has taken three weeks for help to arrive.
The Australian authorities are promising an inquiry. Let’s hope its not a whitewash.
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