In April 2010 an offshore oil spill discharged over 4.9 millions barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the Deepwater Horizon incident it was one of the most deadly environmental disasters in history polluting over 180,000 km2 of ocean and almost 2,000 km of beaches from Texas to Florida.
Tens of thousands of seabirds and animals were killed, tens of thousands of volunteers and paid experts spent months attempting to clean up the oil from beaches and wetlands. Fish started dying, the seafloor under the oil slick was heavily contaminated, baby dolphins were found to die and 5 times the normal level and experts predicted that the spill cost the fishing and tourism industries close to $30 billion dollars.
Couldn’t happen here… could it?
The Surf Coast’s pristine beaches including Lorne, Fairhaven and Bells Beach are at risk of a serious oil spill if plans to develop a deep-water oil field in the Great Australian Bight go ahead.
Norwegian energy company Equinor have plans to begin exploratory drilling in an area 327km off the coast of Ceduna, South Australia in waters up to 3000m deep. Their current permit for lease EPP39 requires them to drill before October 30, 2019 and they have stated their intention to drill in 2019.
The permit for EPP39 was previously owned by BP, who abandoned plans to drill in the Bight in October 2016 after their Environment Plan was rejected three times by industry regulator NOPSEMA.
BP’s oil spill modelling, which formed part of their submission, showed a potential oil spill would cover most of the southern coastline of Australia spreading black oil from South Australia to Victoria including the entire length of the Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road.
Surfers are up in arms at the thought that some of the best beaches in the world from Ceduna to Bells Beach could be covered in black balls of slimy oil.
Local environmental and lobby groups including Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast and Greater Torquay Alliance are working to lobby the Federal Government to call for a moratorium on all oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight. With a Federal Election coming up soon now is the time to ask our politicians what they will do to protect the Great Australian Bight and the beaches along the Great Ocean road, they’re marine life and pristine beaches.
Written by John Foss