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Five years after Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, BP can’t be trusted in Great Australian Bight

  • April 20, 2015 marks fifth anniversary of Gulf of Mexico disaster
  • BP contesting fines for worst oil spill in history, business still waiting for compensation.
  • BP refuses to release oil spill modelling or emergency plans for Bight drilling.

Five years after BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the British oil giant seems to have not learnt anything with its plans to try deep sea drilling in the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight.

Monday (April 20) will be the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizons drill rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that caused the world’s biggest oil spill and the United States’ biggest environmental disaster.

“BP plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight but refuses to reveal the modelling for any potential oil spill or its emergency response plans,” said Wilderness Society South Australian Director Peter Owen.

“The Bight is a whale wonderland, boasting the world’s most significant southern right whale nursery as well as humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales. These waters also support orcas, sea lions and some of Australia’s most important fisheries.”

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and injuring 17 others.

“The Deepwater Horizon was drilling off the coast from Houston, the centre of the US oil industry, but it still took 87 days to plug the well, in which time nearly 800 million litres of oil devastated the waters, coasts, fisheries, marine life, birdlife and livelihoods,” Mr Owen said.

“The spill covered more than 180,000 square kilometres, twice the size of Tasmania, and affected 1770km of shoreline, almost the distance from Melbourne to Brisbane. Only about 25 percent of the oil was recovered, leaving more than half a billion litres of oil in the gulf.

“In addition to the oil, millions of litres of toxic dispersants were sprayed into the Gulf’s waters. The dispersants break up the oil but  can make it easier to get into the food chain. The spill killed or harmed hundreds of thousands of fish, birds, turtles, whales and dolphins.

“The spill cost billions of dollars in clean-up operations, remediation and the Gulf economy. Five years later BP is contesting court fines , claiming the fines threaten the existence of the company.

“Can we trust a company that claims it can’t afford to pay for its last mess, the world’s worst oil spill?

“The Great Australian Bight waters are rougher, deeper and more remote than the Gulf of Mexico. BP can’t be trusted to drill in the Great Australian Bight. BP and our waters don’t mix.”