09/27/2009 - Visitors hoping to peek at Australia’s exotic marine life usually head straight for the Great Barrier Reef. But conservationists say that an equally remarkable, but lesser known, marine environment is under threat from the booming oil and gas exploration taking place among the reefs and atolls off Australia’s northwest coast.
A damaged oil well in the region has been spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Timor Sea since Aug. 21, when a blowout forced the evacuation of all 69 workers on the platform. Emergency crews have been working overtime to contain the spill, but officials say it could take about three more weeks to plug the leak.
“It’s a classic conflict between development and the ecological values of the region,” said John Carey, manager of the Kimberley Conservation Program with the Pew Environment Group. “We need to get the balance right. But the balance at the moment is that less than 1 percent of this globally significant area is under any form of protection.”
Read the full article As Oil Enriches Australia, Spill Is Seen as a Warning on The New York Times' Web site. The article also appeared in The Hindu.