Fears Woodside’s Scarborough Gas Project threatens Pilbara’s rock art and environment


The traditional owners of Pilbara have raised concerns that a $ 16.5 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project could damage the pristine environment.

More than 50 people gathered at a community rally in Karratha on Saturday to voice their opposition to Woodside’s Scarborough Project, which is expected to be one of the largest oil and gas developments undertaken in Australia.

Ngarluma’s wife Camelia Samson said she did not believe the community had been properly informed about the Scarborough project and its potential effects on the Murujuga environment.

“We have heard about this project that is going to take place here on our country and the Burrup, which worries us,” she said.

“It contains the most rock art in the world.

Murujuga National Park has the largest concentration of rock carvings in the world.(ABC Pilbara: Laura Birch)

Last week, Woodside and BHP announced that they had signed the final investment decision.

The project, off Dampier, would include a floating production unit, 13 wells to be drilled over the life of the project and a 430-kilometer pipeline to transport the gas to the coast.

Construction of an onshore LNG processing facility is expected to begin in 2022.

The Scarborough project has received environmental approval.

A vast industrial site illuminated at dusk.
The $ 16.5 billion project includes upgrading the Pluto facility on the Burrup Peninsula.(Supplied: Woodside Energy Ltd)

“In fact, destroy the place”

Over a million petroglyphs are found near the Burrup industrial area in Murujuga, the largest concentration of rock art in the world.

The petroglyphs represent the ancient culture of the traditional owners, their songs and their history.

Some fear that the expansion of the operations of Woodside, Rio Tinto and Yara Pilbara could lead to the fading of art.

Two Indigenous women in black shirts speaking at a community rally.
MAC Board members Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec expressed their views at the community gathering.(ABC Pilbara: Ashleigh Davis)

Ngarluma’s wife Josie Alec, who spoke at the rally, has spent the past 10 years building a database for bush medicine in Pilbara.

She said she had seen a dramatic change in the factories in Murujuga.

“What is that [the Scarborough project] will do with plants, animals? [Industry] is destroying the place as it is, ”Ms. Alec said.

“It’s not very well documented and I guess that’s why people really ignore it, but I think the point is, it’s so sacred.”

Ms Alec said it was the duty of her people to protect Murujuga.

“Why don’t we devote resources, energy and money to doing something good and sustainable for Mother Earth? “

Ancient rock formations in the desert.
Deep gorge at Murujuga National Park.(Provided: Clinton Walker)

The CMA will work with industry, government

The Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) says it has no role in approving projects in the strategic industrial area of ​​Burrup.

“MAC takes seriously its responsibility to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of Murujuga,” said a spokesperson.

“We will continue to work with industry and government to ensure that any development underway on Murujuga will not impact its significant heritage values, and we will ask all stakeholders to report on any impact that they have on cultural heritage values ​​across the country of Murujuga. “

MAC said there was no scientific evidence that the broadcasts had an impact on ancient rock art at Murujuga, but a monitoring program was underway.

“If the research reveals that the emissions have an impact on the state of preservation of rock art, then MAC will expect the state and Commonwealth government to adjust any existing approvals to ensure the values ​​are protected. cultural events in Murujuga, ”the spokesperson said.

Woodside has been contacted for comment.


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