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Oceans Not Oil takes on Sasol

SAfm radio news May 17, 2018

ONO’s Janet Solomon posed the following questions to Jon Harris, Sasol’s Executive Vice President:Upstream :

I am here representing the coalition Oceans Not Oil and will be speaking for our ocean today especially in connection with the oil wells that are planned for 2019.

  1. INCIDENCE MANAGEMENT

Transparency is needed from Sasol Africa Limited with regards to Oil Spill Response, Planning and Capacity. Before you leave today Mr Harris we would like to see and discuss your + ENI’s well blowout management protocol for this project. An emergency response team based in Saldana is hopelessly inadequate. 360 kilometers of ocean will be ruined before the response team even arrives.

  1. LIABILITIES AND FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OIL SPILL REMEDIATION

There has been no mention of what appropriate insurance safeguards Sasol or Eni have in place for remediation against oil spills and other environmental damages. Considering the serious toll a spill would have on safe recreation at beaches, healthy habitats for wildlife, industries such as tourism and fishing, the South African taxpayer and the general public, we request Sasol produce proof of these insurance safeguards and a reasonable level of fiscal readiness for long term clean-up and reparation process, in the event of a major disaster.

  1. OPERATIONAL WASTE

Sasol intends dumping its drilling waste at sea. These are often contaminated with drilling lubricants, synthetic-based drilling fluids (SBFs) and other non-aqueous drilling fluids (NAFs). We demand that the composition of these emissions and effluents regarding their toxicity, biodegradation, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons content, and metals content, be made public.

In addition, please provide us an explanation as to how these sediments contaminated with petroleum products, heavy metals and salts, will be mitigated.

None of these issues is properly dealt with in the Scoping report. So too for

4. NOISE POLLUTION

Vertical Seismic Profiling, which involves airguns capable of inducing significant acoustic trauma on marine animals. The use of airguns producing high decibels and amplitudes of sound in a marine environment requires proper mitigation. Our request is that you establish a hearing threshold-based safety zone during seismic survey activities beyond 12 kilometres. There is science to show this should be a minimum distance from sound source. You will be invading the soundscape of deep diving species like Pilot whales and Beaked whales, because the continental shelf-break edge is an important foraging area for these species. Consideration should also be made for elevated levels of nitrogen (N2) in these deep diving whales making them more susceptible to man made disturbances. Please fully address the adverse effects of subsurface man-made noise during these operations caused by vibration into the seabed, through drill string , casing and of the drill bit. Your key species of concern need to broaden to include Short-finned Pilot Whales and Cuvier’s beaked whale since both are acoustically sensitive species, vulnerable to man-made noise pollution and are resident in the region.

Mr Harris It is immoral that there should be further mining for oil in a time when South Africa has committed to the Paris agreement and when there is full realization that oil, gas and plastic (a derivative of oil) have had an enormous and devastating effect on global seas and land. Surely our ultimate objective is to build an economy beyond oil and deal with climate change vulnerability that is the legacy of oil instead?

Mr Harris, we don’t want Sasol or ENI in our ocean – your companies have a reputation for a strong disrespect for the environment and the sanctity of the ocean commons is an irreversible threshold we fear that it is far too dangerous for Sasol or ENI to cross.

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