Traditional Owners’ call for Santos to clean up their act


An unknown number of disused wells off the West Australian coast have been leaking gas for at least 10 years and are considered impossible to fix, according to gas producer Santos, putting it at odds with the NOPSEMA, the offshore environment regulator.

The leaks, north of the Pilbara port of Dampier, were first discovered in 2013, two years after they were permanently sealed.

A spokesperson for NOPSEMA claimed the regulator would never accept that gas wells would be left to leak indefinitely.

The Traditional Owners of the Tiwi Islands have been fighting Santos’ Barossa Gas Project to protect their Sea Country and way of life.

Comments attributable to Australian Greens spokesperson for Resources, and Yamatji Noongar woman, Senator Dorinda Cox:

“NOPSEMA may claim they won’t allow Santos to operate like this indefinitely, but it’s been ten years already. Enough is enough.

“If we cannot trust the regulator to hold these corporations accountable, then they have failed. The risks are too great to the health and stability of our ecosystems to allow filthy polluters to be so reckless and irresponsible.

“The irony is not lost on me, that we’re debating the Voice to Parliament in the Senate right now, while the voices of Traditional Owners are being silenced by fossil fuel corporations, billionaires and governments who put profits ahead of our irreplaceable environment, sacred traditions and cultural heritage.” 

Comments attributable to Tiwi Island Traditional Owner, Therese Wokai Bourke:

“Santos are liars, and they can’t be trusted. Everything they’ve been saying in their consultation is a lie, they are lying straight to our faces. They just want to go ahead no matter what anyone says.

“Knowing that someone drilled holes for exploration years ago, how can we be sure they’re not leaking now? Has anyone checked? Has NOPSEMA done their job? This could be affecting us right now.

“I was a senior health worker for 21 years and what I’m seeing now is an increase of cancer on the Tiwi Islands, another person passed away from cancer just a few days ago.

“Government is only thinking about money, they’re ruining what’s been given to us - this natural beauty that makes us feel peaceful,  provides us with food, and is the core of our cultural and spiritual way of life.

“We will never give up, we will keep fighting for this until the Prime Minister hears our voices. You want to give us a Voice [to Parliament], well here’s our voices. Will you listen?”

Comments attributable to First Nations Campaigner and Human Rights Advocate, Tiwi Islander, Antonia Bourke:

“How much more evidence does the federal regulator and the government need before they stop the most negligent gas corporation from more catastrophic events?

“Dead dolphins, gas pipe explosions, unsafe working environments, absolute disrespect to Indigenous peoples’ human rights, disrespect to the scientists who are warning everyone about the impacts of this corporation.”