Crude awakening

EIGHT YEARS to the day after the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea, a new doco by East Freo journalist Jane Hammond shines a light on the “forgotten” disaster.

Many Australians are unaware of the widespread devastation that occurred in 2009 when a wellhead blew out and spewed oil into Australian waters, halfway between WA and Indonesia, for 70 days.

The Australian government was involved in the cleanup, but Ms Hammond describes the dispersants used to break up the oil slick as “toxic”.

“The fate of the oil and the dispersants remains in dispute,” Ms Hammond she says.

“But in West Timor seaweed farmers and fishermen say the pollution reached their shores, smothered their seaweed and killed their fish stocks.”


Ms Hammond was a print journo at the West Australian reporting on the Montara oil spill and grew frustrated that PTTEP, the Thai-government owned-company that owned Montara, was fined only $510,000, while ten months later BP was forced to pay $20billion in compensation for the smaller spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ms Hammond went back to uni to learn video journalism, then travelled to West Timor in 2015 and 2016 to interview people affected by the spill for her documentary, A Crude Injustice.

The film will be shown Monday (August 21) at Luna Leederville and includes a talk by Ferdi Tanoni from the West Timor Care Foundation.

At the screening they’ll launch a campaign to get the Australian government to get proper justice for West Timor fishermen and seaweed farmers, asking people to lobby federal MP Julie Bishop to pressure the Indonesian government.

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