Today dawned with an argument raging in the media about the failed attempts to cap the leak. There is no doubt in my mind that the industry want this leak stopped and I am sure that every attempt is being made to do so.
For my focus, every day that the spill continues brings more bad news for the species and ecosystems of this part of the world. It also brings disheartening news about how seriously this is being treated by the Australian Government
Last week the Government and industry released their joint West Atlas Monitoring Programme (15 October 2009) - six weeks after the spill started. Hooray we thought – now we can see the plan to recover some lost ground.
Saddly, even a cursory read of document reveals how much baseline information has to be gathered. The question immediately comes to mind - why was this not collected before the drilling began?
But, what remains the biggest thorn in the sideis that Government seems content to continue a line of denial about the scope of the impact.
Within the document are unsubstantiated statements that impacts of the oil spill on whales and dolphins 'remain unlikely'. The document claims that experts have been consulted, so why then does WDCS need to remind policy makers that marine animals can ingest oil-derived toxic compounds either directly from the water or with their food. That poisonous vapor can also be inhaled by whales and dolphins and especially when the volatile components evaporate into the air from freshly spilled oil.
With anywhere from 10 to 20 million litres of oil spilled into the ocean it is a good bet that there will be chronic longer-term effects of oil entering the food-chain potentially affecting the whole system. Much of this will happen far from sight and if whales or dolphins are killed or otherwise affected - days, months and years into the future - we are unlikely to be witness to this.
None of this information is particularly ground breaking nor new. We have know most of this information for a few decades.
Dolphins have been filmed moving through the slick. We know that many other species call this region home.
It is time that the Australian Government woke up to the full reality of this situation and imposed much stronger conditions and controls over all oil and gas rig and shipping activities in Australian waters.
And, doesn’t it seem sensible to know what is present first … before you decide the level of risk that you might destroying something?
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