Sunday, May 21, 2017

Massive Spill Kept Secret: Australia Oil Regulator Hid Key Leak Data for Months

Australia’s governmental oil watchdog group knew for months about a previously uncontrolled underwater oil leak but kept the information hidden from the public until now.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), a government agency tasked with monitoring industry compliance as well as tracking well integrity, health and safety, and environmental management of Australia's petrochemical industry, did not report a 2016 two-month uncontrolled underwater oil pipeline leak, only releasing the data now in its annual report.

Following a routine inspection in 2016, NOPSEMA technicians identified an underwater oil pipeline that was continuously leaking oil at the rate of some 50 gallons a day, according to a report by The Guardian.

According to the report, some 3,000 gallons of unprocessed crude oil spewed into the surrounding marine ecosystem over the course of two months before the leak was finally patched.

A spokesperson for NOPSEMA claimed that the leak occurred after a pipeline seal failed. The spokesperson would not reveal the name of the company that owns and operates the pipeline, or the precise location of the spill, asserting only that it happened on the North West Shelf, about 155 square miles of open ocean of varying depth off the coast of Western Australia, which boasts extensive oil and gas deposits.

NOPSEMA and local government officials came in for heavy criticism from Greenpeace Australia Pacific for suppressing the information. The environmental organization observed that no punishments or fines have been levied against the unnamed operator of the pipeline.......

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