Documents obtained by Labour show the Government has kept secret the real risk of an incident including a major oil spill occurring at the depths of Anadarko’s proposed Kaikōura drilling site, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.
“The Government has constantly told the public deep sea oil exploration will be safe.
“However, documents obtained under the Official Information Act show Environment Minister Amy Adams had international research 13 months ago showing there is a 70 per cent probability of a ‘reportable incident’ occurring within a year at the 1500m depth of the Kaikōura well.
“This research shows while existing shallow water sites such as Taranaki carry a risk of only around 10 per cent, the risk is dramatically increased at deeper levels.
“Amy Adams went to great lengths to keep this information from the public. In fact, she told Parliament there is a ‘very low risk’ of a large scale oil spill occurring.
“The Government needs to be honest about the risks of deep sea oil drilling, especially when the Kaikōura community and the wider public hold serious reservations about Anadarko’s plans.
“This isn’t the first time the Government has misled the public over this issue.
“Last year the Energy and Resources Minister told Kaikōura residents they would be consulted on exploration drilling but this year National rushed through legislation taking away that democratic right.
“In September Amy Adams said the impact of an oil spill would be ‘significant’ but it turns out she’d been told it would be ‘catastrophic’.
“Last month John Key claimed there had only been one ‘problem’ in the Gulf of Mexico but there have been 74 major spills.
“Labour supports the use of our natural resources if they can be extracted safely, if communities have their say, if there are the resources available to clean-up an oil spill and if the companies involved take full responsibility for any damage done.
“A major oil spill would affect our international reputation, not just our environment, and harm our exports and tourist operators. We can’t afford to risk our future for a short-term gain,” David Cunliffe says.