Australian oil spill recovery could take up to 7 years
November 4, 2009
An Australian official says the cleanup of a huge oil spill in pristine Australian waters could take as long as seven years, reports the Associated Foreign Press. Approximately 28,000 barrels of oil have gushed into the Timor Sea off Western Australia''s northern coast in the weeks since the West Atlas oilrig began leaking, raising concerns of an environmental disaster. Attempts to plug the hole were delayed by the need to bring equipment from Singapore, the difficulty of the operation some 1.6 miles below the seabed and a fierce inferno fueled by the leak. The rig''s operator PTTEP Australasia said the cleanup would be carried out quickly after the oil and gas leak and the fire were shut down. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, who has called for an inquiry into the incident, welcomed the news that the fire on the rig and the Montara wellhead platform had been extinguished. Environmentalists said stopping the flow was the first step in cleaning up the spill some 250 kilometers offshore, but called for any inquiry into the leak and fire to have wide-ranging powers. Authorities said they were investigating whether oil from the rig could have washed up on Australia''s northern coast. The Australian embassy in Jakarta has dismissed reports that oil from the leak had come close to Indonesian coastal waters as "highly unlikely".