Threat from mercury, lead & radioactive waste pollution

10am Saturday 16 March, Melbourne

Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066

(Side entrance in Perry Street; up stairs)

A multinational fossil fuel company has applied to the federal government to dump the majority of eight offshore oil platforms into Bass Strait close to the Gippsland coast in Victoria.

Esso, which is owned by Woodside and ExxonMobil, wants to remove the topsides of the platforms before cutting the massive pylons, or jackets, and dumping them into the ocean.

The eight facilities are among 13 that need to be decommissioned in coming years.

They have been found to contain high levels of asbestos, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, as well as thousands of tonnes of hazardous radioactive waste, technically enhanced and worsened in the extraction process*.

Esso says that the will be creating so-called artificial reefs, but the level of toxins and radioactivity in the resulting sea life is likely to be high, given recent studies.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is calling on the government to immediately reject the application, and to force the company to safely and responsibly remove all of the steel and other recyclable materials from the facilities.

Friends of the Earth Offshore Fossil Gas campaigner Jeff Waters says Esso is being deceptive, because it’s “rigs to reef” scheme is nothing but an attempt to save money.

“Esso has to rent a European decommissioning ship, so they are rushing to complete the Bass Strait decommissioning in one season,” Jeff Waters said.

“If they were to be forced to recycle the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of perfectly good steel, they’d need to hire such a ship over several years.”

“Esso’s toxic fish factory has to be stopped.”

“They’re using scientific studies that they paid for to justify turning the ocean off Gippsland into a toxic dump,” Waters said.

“Those retired oil platforms contain huge amounts of mercury and hazardous radioactive waste, which will poison the areas around them and render the sea life too dangerous to consume.”

“It’s also a waste of perfectly good steel that could be recycled and turned into much-needed wind turbine towers and bases.”

Friends of the Earth is also calling on the Victorian government to intervene.

“The state government needs steel to build wind turbine towers and bases,” Jeff Waters said.

“The state government should be picking up the phone to their federal colleagues today and demanding that this steel be recycled.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the government to extend the existing temporary decommissioning levy to force the oil and methane industry to pay for world-standard onshore breaking and recycling facilities.

FoE has also launched a new website and petition that can be signed at

Jeff Waters

Friends of the Earth

Offshore Fossil Gas Campaigner

0498 111 261

*TENORM, or Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material is produced and accumulated in the oil and methane gas extraction process. NORM, including Uranium, Thorium and Radon gas are sucked up from below the ocean floor, and then concentrated in the pipelines and platforms. As this process takes place, the NORM is made much worse, and becomes TENORM.

Key Facts:

– Government gazette says Esso has applied to dump 8 oil platforms

– Hazardous radioactive waste, mercury other toxins heavily present

– Esso trying to save money hiring ship

– Fed Govt should stop it

– VIC Govt should demand the steel be recycled

– Petiition launched

/Public Release.