New film proves Montara oil spill reached Indonesian shores
4th Sep 2015
A new film released today has shown for the first time the effects that Australia’s worst offshore oil spill has had on our Indonesian neighbours, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
Six years ago the Montara oil spill spewed oil and gas into waters of the Timor Sea for 74 days. Millions of litres of oil polluted the ocean, creating oil slicks which soon stretched over the horizon towards Indonesia. Australian authorities applied 184,000 litres of dispersants, some of which are extremely toxic, to the oil as it flowed north.
Since then, local economies in the closest region of Indonesia, Nusa Tenggara Timur, have reported losses totalling billions of Australian dollars, with communities also reporting widespread sickness and health conditions they claim are caused by the oil spill.
ALA National President Greg Phelps said the short film, Montara, is the first film evidence featuring eyewitness accounts of villagers showing where the oil reached their beaches.
“Australians can now see the human face of the people who provide eye-witness accounts describing the brunt of Australia’s worst offshore oil disaster,” Mr Phelps said.
“The reports relate that the toll that the Montara oil spill has taken on our closest neighbours is immense, and it is the seaweed farming villages on the coast and the local fishermen who have borne most of this burden.”
“This film is the first video evidence featuring villagers showing where the oil reached and the damage it caused on Rote Island,” Mr Phelps said.
“For years, the polluting company, PTTEP Australasia, has said that no oil reached Indonesian shores. This cannot be relied on any longer. This film reveals that eyewitnesses saw the oil come onto their beaches.”
“For six years, the Australian government has ignored reports from the poor fishing communities of multi-billion dollar impacts of the Montara oil spill in Indonesia,” Mr Phelps said.
“Despite being specifically asked by the Indonesian government for assistance last year, the Australian government has made no effort of any kind.”
“Nothing is stopping the Australian government from making an offer of assistance to Indonesia, especially given that, prior to the 2013 election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott described Australia’s relationship with Indonesia as ‘perhaps our most important relationship’,” Mr Phelps said.
“We encourage the government to finally act to assist in finding out what happened as a result of the Montara oil spill.”
“This is a severe injustice. It happened in Australian waters, by an Australian registered company, under the failed watch of an Australian regulator. The Australian government has a role to play in creating a resolution.”
“So far, the Australian government’s response has been to ignore the problem. That is not acceptable. The poverty of these communities should be all the more reason for action, not an excuse to rely on their lack of political power to hope this matter will go away.” Mr Phelps said.
The film can be viewed here.