For millennia, sea turtles have been making an incredible journey. The ancient creatures swim thousands of kilometers, returning to their place of birth at Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast every year. Quietly, under the cover of night, they lay their eggs in the sand, giving birth to a new generation as their cycle of life continues.
But these beautiful and ancient creatures are facing a new and silent threat to their survival.
Chevron’s massive LNG gas factory on Barrow Island is just a stone’s throw away from the beaches where these beautiful creatures nest. But instead of being good neighbours, pollution from the gas factory is literally killing the turtles.
Chevron’s two giant gas factories are responsible for nearly 20 million tonnes of pollution every year, making Chevron WA’s largest polluter by far. The pollution is driving up the temperature of the turtles' nesting beaches. But turtle eggs are extremely sensitive to temperature – it determines the sex of the hatchlings, and if they will survive at all.
Chevron’s pollution is turning baby turtles female - or killing them before they hatch.
Chevron won’t reveal the details of how its pollution is affecting the turtles, but we know they are well aware there is a problem. In its Chevron admitted in its latest compliance report that sand temperatures on turtle nesting beaches were, "significantly hotter than those recorded in baseline seasons", and, "were likely to produce sex ratios biased towards females".
When a similar problem was discovered off the coast of Queensland, scientists were alarmed. They discovered that 99% of the turtles nesting on islands off the Great Barrier Reef are turning female due to the warming.
"This is extreme - like capital letters extreme, exclamation point extreme" - Camryn Allen, Turtle Scientist
Chevron admitted last year that problems with their equipment on Barrow Island would cause an extra 5 million tonnes of pollution – even if they manage to fix the problem.
If Chevron were forced to deal with their pollution, jobs and investment for WA would be created in carbon farming and clean technology. But instead of taking action, Chevron are not even complying with their existing pollution limits.
Chevron pay no tax and pay no royalties to Western Australia for the gas that they export. Western Australia’s largest polluter is taking billions of dollars in profits overseas, while leaving us to clean up their pollution mess.
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson knows there is a problem, and has ordered a review of pollution conditions at Chevron’s giant Wheatstone gas facility. But Chevron is already fighting back. The Company is claiming there is no problem, while the Leader of the WA Liberal Party has attacked the pollution review as a threat to the company’s profits!
Right now, wildlife across our beautiful state is threatened. Like the endangered sea turtles, the Carnaby’s black cockatoo and numbat are also threatened by climate change, pollution, and habitat loss.
These unique creatures exist nowhere else in the world – and if we don’t protect them nobody else will. That’s why Chevron must be held to account for the impacts of their pollution on wildlife across our state.
As WA’s independent voice for the environment, CCWA is exposing Chevron and other polluters for their crimes against our environment.
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