An oil tower containing toxic chemicals once used by Woodside to produce oil near the Ningaloo Reef ceased operations and should have been decommissioned by the company in 2018.
Woodside originally planned to tow the tower to Perth for disposal within six months, but a flooded compartment and malfunctioning valves meant the tower could not be moved.
The regulator, NOPSEMA, said the problems demonstrated Woodside, which had skipped a planned 10-yearly inspection of the compartments, had not maintained the tower properly. NOPSEMA are investigating whether Woodside’s poor maintenance was a breach of the law.
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for resources and tourism, and Yamatji-Noongar woman, Senator Dorinda Cox:
“Woodside appears to only be interested in profit. Their negligent attitude is clear as this issue remains unresolved since 2018.
“Woodside engaged Dutch company Heerema to decommission this offshore infrastructure in mid-2022, but instead of action we get excuses.
“When will the Australian Government strengthen the laws and regulations that govern the decommissioning of these toxic facilities? We know the industry will delay and cut costs to save their billion-dollar bottom line at the expense of the environment and the taxpayer.
“Failure to uphold their responsibility to maintain this tower demonstrates Woodside’s blatant disregard for rules and regulations. We shouldn’t be waiting any longer for them to clean up this mess, it sets a shocking precedent for other fossil fuel companies.
“The Greens call on the regulator to direct Woodside to immediately decommission this toxic tower and prevent the company from putting the precious Ningaloo Reef at risk for another 18 months. Ningaloo is a world heritage-listed marine playground, and the pride of West Australians, holidaymakers and our multi-million-dollar tourism industry.”
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:
"We shouldn’t be risking our marine wildlife for the sake of sparing a multibillion dollar company a few bucks and some convenience, and regulators shouldn't let these oil and gas giants run roughshod over our oceans.
"Putting our marine life at risk to suit the financial interests of one of the world's biggest polluters isn't acceptable.
"A toxic chemical spill this close to the Ningaloo Reef World Heritage Area would be devastating for WA’s precious marine wildlife, including thousands of species of whales, sharks, fish, turtles and corals.
"Big businesses make millions of dollars in profits from this oil field, they can afford to clean up after themselves."