Approval fight unfolds in WA
A WA council is considering legal action over nearby industrial works.
The Shire of Ashburton is examining its legal avenues in a dispute with major corporations over the decommissioning of Chevron's Thevenard Island facilities, located off the Pilbara coast, approximately 1,400km north of Perth.
It has been alleged that certain decommissioning activities were conducted in Onslow without the required local government approvals, sparking a complex debate on regulatory compliance and environmental stewardship.
Chevron Australia, a key player in the nation's oil and gas sector, has remained tight-lipped about whether this burgeoning legal challenge will affect the timeline for dismantling the ageing infrastructure.
The controversy centres on actions taken by Onslow Marine Support Base (OMSB) and Liberty Industrial, with both entities facing scrutiny from the local council over their role in the decommissioning process.
OMSB, which manages vital port facilities under a lease agreement with the Western Australian government, has been accused by the Shire of Ashburton of carrying out work without necessary local approvals.
In response, OMSB contends that its operations, including the installation of a temporary liner to mitigate waterway contamination, were conducted under a Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) licence granted in September 2023.
However, the dispute escalated in December when the shire issued a stop work notice to OMSB, challenging the adequacy of the company's permissions for the decommissioning work.
Andrew Natta, Managing Director of OMSB, has called the shire's actions “inappropriate” and exceeding expectations for local government enforcement of planning legislation.
Despite these tensions, both parties acknowledge the importance of decommissioning for the region.
Shire President Audra Smith says the council is committed to overseeing decommissioning activities responsibly.
The Shire of Ashburton, after a special council meeting, is actively considering legal action against the companies involved.
Meanwhile, Chevron Australia asserts its dedication to proceeding with decommissioning and rehabilitation efforts, pledging to facilitate cooperation among all stakeholders to resolve the issue.