Western Australia Senator Rachel Siewert arrived in Jakarta on Sunday (16/07) to discuss the 2009 Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea with the Indonesian government.
“Senator Siewert will meet with Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan on Monday, to discuss the Montara oil spill case that has been ongoing for about eight years now,” Care for West Timor Foundation (YPTB) chairman Ferdi Tanoni said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.
YPTB represents more than 13,000 fishermen whose livelihoods were affected by the oil spill, which has led to declining fish and seaweed harvests in the heavily polluted waters.
The Montara oil rig, which was operated by subsidiary PTTEP Australasia, leaked hundreds of thousands of liters of oil into the sea off the northern coast of Australia following a blowout on Aug. 21, 2009.
The Indonesian government sued Thai state-owned companies PTT and PTT Exploration and Production in May this year for around $2 billion for alleged damage to the environment from the oil spill, Reuters reported.
The spill is considered one of Australia’s worst oil disasters.
Ferdi said Siewert has been actively urging the Australian government to take responsibility for the incident and its impact on tens and thousands of Indonesians living in East Nusa Tenggara.
Apart from its role as a regulator, the Australian government is also responsible for the spraying of Corexit, a chemical considered toxic to marine life, in large quantities to disperse the oil spill.
“This has been recognized by the Australia Maritime Safety Authority [AMSA] in an Australian Senate hearing initiated by Rachel Siewert in 2010,” Ferdi said.