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A multinational fossil fuel company has applied to the federal government to dump the majority of eight oil and methane platforms into the sea close to the Gippsland coast in Victoria.

Esso, which is owned by Woodside and ExxonMobil, wants to remove the topsides of the platforms before cutting the massive pylons, or jackets, and dumping them into the ocean.

They have been found to contain high levels of asbestos, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, as well as thousands of tonnes of hazardous radioactive waste, technically enhanced and worsened in the extraction process.

Esso says that the will be creating so-called artificial reefs, but the level of toxins and radioactivity in the resulting sea life is likely to be high, given recent studies.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is calling on the government to immediately reject the application, and to force the company to safely and responsibly remove all of the steel and other recyclable materials from the facilities.


oil rig recycle


The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Environment and Water

The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy

The Hon Dr Jim Chalmers, Treasurer


Dear Minsters,

We call on you to deny Esso's application to dump eight decommissioned oil and methane gas platforms into Bass Strait, and instead support  the building of one or more industry-funded Australian Rig Recycling Centres, and a fleet of decommissioning ships, so as to facilitate the processing of decommissioned oil and gas assets.

Esso's plans will result in the pollution of the sea off the coast of East Gippsland, Victoria, with large amounts of toxic materials and hazardous radioactive waste.

It is also a waste of perfectly good steel, which should re-enter the circular economy by being safely removed and recycled in an electric smelter.

We call upon you to force the industry to pay to clean up its own mess, in a manner that is safe for the environment, workers and Traditional Owners.

World-class recycling facilities should be funded by extending the Offshore Petroleum (Laminaria and Corallina Decommissioning Cost Recovery) Levy.

Australian Rig Recycling Centres would:

- Create a new industry, with associated flow-on benefits to small businesses and the community
- Create hundreds of ongoing jobs 
- Safely dispose of legacy offshore fossil fuel assets in a sustainable manner 
- Prevent the dumping of such assets in unsafe, exploitative, and polluting maritime wrecking sites in Asia
- Provide ongoing income for housing, health, education and employment for Traditional Owners whose sea country has been disturbed.

They could also provide synergies with the emerging offshore wind industry.

It is a visionary plan that will bring great benefits to Australia and will establish this country as a world-leading servicing region for the offshore oil and gas industry.

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