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Media Release: Oil spill decision made under Oil Spill Contingency Plan

24 Aug 2016

The decision not to attempt to clean up Friday’s oil spill in Darwin Harbour did not involve the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority.

The chair of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority, Dr Bill Freeland, said the decision was made under the Northern Territory’s Darwin Port Corporation Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

He said that the NT EPA fully supported this decision.

“We have also been in regular consultation with the Commonwealth Government’s authority for oil spills, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, throughout this event,” Dr Freeland said.

He also confirmed:

  • that the NT EPA is not responsible for the cleaning up oil spills
  • the NT EPA has received no reports of oiled sea birds, distressed dolphins, dugongs or turtles, and no reports related to fish kill
  • the NT EPA’s response to the spill was timely and appropriate, with a timeline provided to the media and the public
  • the volume of material in the spill, and its state of dispersion, precludes clean-up action other than augmentation of the dispersal using boat traffic
  • it would be inappropriate for the NT EPA to provide a step-by step-commentary on its investigation into the source of the spill

"The NT EPA is disappointed that AFANT seems to have ignored the suggestion that it mobilise its fishers to assist with the dispersal of the oil sheen in the harbour,” he concluded.