Thursday, October 29, 2009

Australian Oil Rig Blowout Creates Environmental Catastrophe

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2009) – The impacts of the nine-week West Timor oil rig blowout are creating an environmental catastrophe for wildlife and ocean ecosystems, Defenders of Wildlife said today. In August, the West Atlas/Montara offshore drilling rig, widely touted as a “safe, modern” operation, suffered what the rig’s operators termed a “loss of well control.” Despite three attempts to stop the resulting massive oil spill, oil continues to leak into the surrounding ocean.

“A global-scale environmental catastrophe so large that it is visible from space is unfolding in one of earth’s last marine wilderness areas,” said Richard Charter, government relations consultant with Defenders of Wildlife, “It is time for the dithering, excuses, and failed response efforts to end and for the international community to get the full story on how and why this spill has been allowed to continue for so long. This persistent mess is too big and too damaging to hide any longer.”

Estimates of the volume of oil spilled since the August 21 Australian blowout have now expanded as much as five-fold, to more than 9.7 million gallons, while the oil slick has covered several thousand square miles of ocean waters. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is now discussing allowing essentially the same kind of “environmentally-responsible” offshore drilling to go forward off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle beaches.

“If anything like the Australian blowout ever takes place off of the Southeast U.S. beaches or in Florida waters, the economic and environmental consequences will last for decades,” Charter emphasized.

Worldwide, conservation interests have become increasingly concerned as satellite images have shown that the mega-spill has spread from Australia’s whale and sea-turtle rich Kimberley Coast into distant Indonesian waters as well. Three prior attempts to stop the flow of oil have failed, and a fourth attempt this week had to be postponed due to equipment failure.

Satellite imagery of the spill can be downloaded courtesy of Skytruth

and here:

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit

Thanks to the Friends of the Lower Calaveras River for the repost of this press release


Jerry Critter said...

With the update in the size of this oil spill, it is indeed approaching the size of the Exxon Valdez spill -- 9.7 million versus 10.8 million gallons.

I would also like to acknowledge a mistake in my previous post about this spill. I said that the Exxon Valdez spill was 10.8 million barrels. It actually was 10.8 million GALLONS. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons, hence I was off by a factor of 42.

This spill is truly a disaster of momentous proportions and still getting worse.

Paul Burke said...

Jerry - thanks for stopping by and spread the word!