Australia launches inquiry into major oil spill
November 9, 2009
According to the Associated Foreign Press, Australia has launched an inquiry into the major oil spill off the coast in the Timor Sea. Retired senior civil servant David Borthwick was appointed to probe the leak, which gushed from a damaged oil well in the sea for about ten weeks before bursting into flames and then finally being contained. The inquiry will have the power to call witnesses, take sworn evidence and force companies to hand over documents, and will make recommendations aimed at stopping future accidents. The rig''s Thai-based operator, PTTEP Australasia, has warned the site off northern Australia may need environmental monitoring for up to seven years. Up to 28,000 barrels of oil poured into the sea after the West Atlas rig began leaking, prompting several attempts to cap it by boring a relief well and pumping in heavy mud. Environmental groups have criticized the government''s handling of the spill, saying it threatened bird and marine life off Western Australia''s north coast.