Oil rig disaster inquiry begins


PERTH — Owners of the West Atlas oil-drilling platform announced a devastating fire on the rig was extinguished on November 3.

Before the fire, the oil-rig had spewed crude oil into the Timor Sea for 10 weeks, creating a huge oil slick.

If the oil-slick was located off the New South Wales coast, it would extend from Wollongong to Port Macquarie, said the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson launched an inquiry into the disaster on November 5. However, the inquiry may not be open to the public said the November 6 Sydney Morning Herald. Ferguson also ruled out a freeze on oil extraction and exploration licences during the inquiry.

Rig owner, Thai-based PTTEP Australasia, announced it would cooperate with the investigation.

Despite the disaster, Ferguson told the November 2 West Australian that the oil and gas industry had a good record and a low number of oil spills.

Greens Senator Bob Brown responded: "He is an oil industry parrot and he should resign."

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