20th Jan 2021
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Montara: After the spill
We met with communities in Indonesia who say that their lives and communities have been changed since September 2009, when their seaweed farms died.
Watch our film to hear people's stories and how they were affected after Montara.
This is the first time that people in Australia have been able to see and hear directly from villagers in Rote Island who say that oil reached Indonesian shores.
Thanks to Bright Day Films for creating this film for us.
Our investigative report: After the Spill, Investigating Australia's Montara oil disaster in Indonesia, follows two years of research regarding the Montara oil disaster and Australia's response.
- See our media release here.
- Download the full report here (50.41MB, 259 pages)
- Download the executive summary here.
- Download the recommendations.
In the weeks and months following the 2009 Montara oil spill, Australia's worst offshore oil disaster, people from Nusa Tenggara Timur (the closest Indonesian province to Australia) began to experience the devastation of their environment and their livelihoods.
Some communities saw oil in the water - some saw it wash onto their beaches. Their seaweed crops were completely destroyed within days.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance has been seeking justice for the people of Nusa Tenggara Timur for more than two years.
What we have done
- We have written to and met with officials of the Australian government.
- We have visited West Timor and Rote Island.
- We have issued numerous freedom of information applications.
- We have issued media releases. We have spoken at events.
- We have written parliamentary submissions to parliamentary committee inquiries.
The Australian government
The response of the Australian government has been sadly lacking. Along the way, we have found an unwillingness on the part of the Australian government to take further action to assist Indonesia, regarding:
- an oil spill that occurred in Australian waters
- under the eye of an Australian regulator
- by an Australian-registered company
- that was cleaned up by Australian departments using some types of dispersants that are now acknowledged to be toxic.
What we found
Our report paints a picture of how individuals' lives and communities have been devastated in the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur following the Montara spill.
This has included:
- Drastic reductions in the incomes of thousands of seaweed farmers and fishermen
- Children and young people being pulled out of education
- People experiencing strange skin ailments in the years after the spill, with wider concerns for public health
- Dead whales
- Dead mangroves and the subsequent flooding of villages
Rote Island has received national attention, as boats containing people seeking asylum were turned back by Australia and ended up on Rote's shores. However, the ongoing economic loss experienced in Rote (and further afield) has continued to evade scrutiny.
The issue of transboundary damage is of international significance.
The offshore petroleum industry continues to expand internationally - yet the legacy of one of the largest offshore spills in the last decade continues unresolved. The Montara case sets a precedent on the international stage.
It is time for change.
What we are seeking
It is time for an independent investigation to occur. We believe that it is the responsibility of the Australian government to facilitate this through negotiations with the Indonesian government.
It is not too late for the people of Nusa Tenggara Timur. If oil reached the coast, it can still be found by scientific experts in sediments.
It is time to see if it can be found, almost six years after the spill.
Download the full report. (50.41MB, 259 pages)
Further information on our website about the Montara oil spill can be seen here.