Contributed from Victoria
Woodside is best known for exploiting the gas fields off Australia’s western coast and has been in the firing line of those who want to get Australia off an addiction to gas.
Less known is that Woodside leaves behind a mess when leaving a gas field. It has done so with the sinking An 83-metre-high tower close to the Ningaloo Reef. This was decommissioned years ago and just left to rust and decay. This is not all right, because besides steel it contains taxic chemicals that will eventually pollute the sea. Offshore regulator National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority directed Woodside in January, to mitigate risks. Nothing has happened yet.
Woodside believed cleaning up would cost too much and had just walked away from its responsibility. They did so because they can. The law preventing this is too weak and ineffectual. The consequences are minimal. This must change.
In came Greenpeace and its flagship Rainbow Warrior. They went to the wreck on 14 May and put up a banner saying, “Woodside don’t be a tosser.” There is serious concern that pollution will cause major damage to unique wildlife. Greenpeace is campaigning to put an end to this sort of irresponsibility by drawing what Woodside is doing to public attention.
But Greenpeace has also joined the campaign of many conservation and Indigenous groups, as well as broader local communities, to put a stop to Woodside’s plan to exploit a much bigger project on and off the Burrup Peninsula.
Facilities are already being built on the Burrup, to bring in gas from the Scarborough site. The $16.2 billion joint venture with BHP, will significantly expand Australia’s gas extraction. This is at a time when Australia is supposed to be heading towards zero net emissions. The exploitation of Scarborough will pull in the opposite direction. Emissions from this will be the equivalent of 15 coal powered stations.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said that Woodside was “treating Australians with contempt” by forging ahead on the project.
“For so long as the company persists on this course, the corporate name of Woodside will become synonymous with the destruction of everything that Australians hold dear.”
Australia needs to wean off gas and build alternative industries for affected communities. This is an important part of decarbonisation. Along the way, polluters should be compelled to clean up the mess they create.