FOI win on oil drilling in Great Australian Bight
EDO NSW has assisted Greenpeace Australia Pacific in obtaining documents under Freedom of Information laws which reveal the potential dangers involved in drilling for oil in the wild seas off the South Australian coast.
Emergency plans prepared by resources company BP to deal with an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight have been released after a two-year battle with the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
Greenpeace commenced the FOI proceedings in August 2016 and within months obtained the plans they were seeking. However, the documents were heavily redacted on the basis that release of complete documents was contrary to the public interest, due to personal privacy and possible adverse business effects.
Greenpeace then sought EDO NSW assistance in having the entirety of the documents released through external review by the Australian Information Commissioner (IC) of the NOPSEMA decision. EDO NSW argued that there were no adverse business effects and it was in the public interest to disclose the entire documents in order to inform public debate, increase scrutiny of Government and provide the Australian community with access to information in line with the objectives of FOI laws.
Before the IC reviews were completed, in October 2018 NOPSEMA released all the documents, with only personal details removed.
The documents reveal ‘significant uncertainty’ about drilling in the area and the potential for serious impacts if a spill were to occur.