5 Sep 2009

Oil slick moving closer to Australian coast

7:04 am on 5 September 2009

A massive oil slick in the Timor Sea, about 700km from Darwin, is moving closer to the Australian coast.

Oil has been flowing from the West Atlas drilling rig for a fortnight and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says the slick is now 170km from shore.

The ABC reports the slick has now spread over 6,000 square kilometres of ocean.

The company involved, PTTEP Australasia, says it is going to be at least a month before it can plug the leak.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett understands it involves between 300 - 400 barrels per day, which he describes as a serious situation.

Planes have been flying over the slick spraying dispersant. A rig is being brought in from Singapore to plug the leak, but it is not due do arrive for several more days.

The federal government says there will be a full and independent inquiry once the oil leak is plugged.