Feds launch investigation into WA gasworks and rock art shock

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Mainstream Tory concerns, detailed in a two-page government notice that appeared in the Perth daily on Wednesday, include the effect of new and existing industry.

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Woodside is doubling the size of its Pluto plant to process gas from the Scarborough gas field and recently the WA Environmental Protection Authority recommended that it be allowed to extend the life of its North West Shelf until 2070.

A Woodside spokeswoman said no peer-reviewed research has concluded the rock art is affected by emissions from LNG plants.

In early 2022, a team of scientists led by Benjamin Smith, professor of world rock art at the University of Washington, published a review of extensive research on the rock art of Murujuga. Their peer-reviewed paper concluded that industrial emissions have made the area more acidic and even current acidity levels would cause the art – which is etched in a very thin colored layer on the outside of the rocks – to disappear with the time.

Yara modifies its gas-powered ammonia plant to use a small amount of emission-free green hydrogen made with energy from an adjacent solar farm, called a “visual desecration” by Cooper and Alec.

A spokesperson for Yara said its exciting facilities produce less than 3% of the emissions on the Burrup and that the new project – a crucial first step towards decarbonising its operations – was planned in consultation with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.

Cooper and Alec are members of Save our Songlines, a group taking a stronger line against the industry on the Burrup than the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.

Private company Perdaman plans to greenlight a $6.7 billion urea plant this year once financing is finalized.

In August, Plibersek denied a request by Cooper and Alec under Section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act to temporarily halt construction, paving the way for the relocation of five works rock art of cultural significance.

Perdaman has previously said the Article 10 process will not delay his investment decision.

Cooper said the company shouldn’t make quick assumptions.

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“We have a very dedicated team behind Save our Songlines, and very passionate,” she said.

“The fight still continues.”

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