Wednesday, December 18, 2013


  1. Broome boat plan axed

    Broome's recreational fishing community is reeling at Treasurer Troy Buswell's decision to pull the plug on the long-awaited $50 million boating project earmarked for Roebuck Bay.

    The town has been lobbying the State Government for decades for better and safer facilities to cope with the growing number of boats launching from ramps and beaches.

    The Broome Boating Facility Community Reference Group was set up four years ago at the request of former transport minister Simon O'Brien to engage with the development of the proposed boating facilities. Its chairman Jeff Cooper said the decision was extremely disappointing.

    He said the peak season had between 3000 and 4000 registered boats launching in Broome.

    "To see this project abolished is gut-wrenching after the four years the community has worked with the Department of Transport and key stakeholders to get it to the finishing line," he said.

    "The do-nothing option is unacceptable and over the coming weeks key stakeholders will get together to formulate a plan that we will take to government."

    Mr Buswell said it was understandable people in Broome would be upset by the decision.


    There is no doubt that the Port of Broome is being grossly mismanaged.
    Barnett's insane obsession with JPP looks set to destroy any hope of Broome having a long term industry built around servicing FLNG's.

    Where are all the BCC loud voices now?
    And the Shire?

    The only reason the Port wants to build an obscene mud plant right on the Bay when it could go anywhere in the industrial area is simple - the Port is just so greedy it wouldn't get the money if the mud plant was not on their land - never mind the Bay and never mind the tourists or anyone else.

    It is way past time all the "loud voices" forgot about worshiping the Liberal brand and spoke out about Barnett and the disaster his obsession is creating.

    The Port needs $200 million to bring it up to date - so say a lot of people including Ken Baston.Not much when you think Barnett was willing to spend $150 million to build a road to JPP for Woodside.

    So where is the vision?

    How much of the $8 million the Shire wasted on the gas plant went into the pockets of their mates?

    How much of the $4 million that idiot wants to find Chinatown will do the same?

    Aren't there a lot of Old Broome families (Chinese and others) that would be happy to put up some ideas for free?

    But then that would not leave room for some Shire / BCC swindles would it?

    Blame it all on Canberra?
    Not anymore.

  2. The other "too pricey point"


    Buckeridge port deal collapses

    The State Government is bracing for a billion-dollar legal battle with building magnate Len Buckeridge after Supreme Court mediation to settle a dispute over construction of a private port at James Point collapsed.

    The Government had tried to sell Mr Buckeridge the Kwinana Bulk Terminal as part of a settlement but his James Point Pty Ltd company abandoned negotiations, blaming the Government for unacceptable delays.

    Mr Buckeridge is suing the Government for costs and lost profits of about $1.2 billion over a deal signed with the Government 13 years ago tomorrow.

    James Point Pty Ltd chairman Chris Whitaker told industry stakeholders yesterday that all work on the port proposal would cease immediately.

    JPPL and Mr Buckeridge's lawyer Michael Hotchkin fired a broadside at the Government for taking too long to negotiate a settlement.

    Mr Hotchkin said the Government had been unable to give JPPL access to the financial records for the Kwinana terminal before mediation began this month.

    "The parties were too far apart, and the delays we experienced at the hands of the State and the reasons for the delays were so significant that we decided that it was just too risky to proceed," he said.

    "It just didn't stack up. It wasn't financially viable because we couldn't be confident we could do things because the involvement of the State was required and their performance was so bad to date that we just couldn't take the risk any more.

    "We told them in April that we really needed to be pretty confident by the end of the financial year that we had a deal.

    "Their experts didn't even start (financial) modelling until about August or September.

    "We'd been promised access to the information we needed to assess the true value of KBT in May. By December, when the mediation took place, we still didn't have that access and in fact we had no information at all."

    Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the Government would put the KBT on the open market as part of its assets sales program.

    He confirmed JPPL had told the Government it was not interested in buying the facilities.

    Mr Buckeridge, whose health is faltering, lodged his Supreme Court writ in November last year. A framework agreement to build the bulk commodity, livestock export berth and second-stage offshore container port in Cockburn Sound was signed in the last days of the Court Government.

    The deal was never finalised and the Government refused to sell Mr Buckeridge the land.

  3. Is it at all possible that the Macondo could be compared to the Montara?


    Study links BP oil spill to dolphin deaths

    US government scientists have for the first time found direct evidence of toxic exposure in the Gulf of Mexico

    US government scientists have for the first time connected the BP oil disaster to dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico, in a study finding direct evidence of toxic exposure.

    The study, led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found lung disease, hormonal abnormalities and other health effects among dolphins in an area heavily oiled during the BP spill.

    The diseases found in the dolphins at Barataria Bay in Louisiana – though rare – were consistent with exposure to oil, the scientists said.

    "Many disease conditions observed in Barataria Bay dolphins are uncommon but consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure and toxicity," the scientists said.

    Half of the dolphins were given a guarded prognosis, and 17% were expected to die of the disease, the researchers found.

    "I've never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals – and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities," Lori Schwake, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

    The scientists caught, examined and released about 30 bottlenose dolphins from Barataria Bay in 2011, one year after the disaster. The area was one of the most heavily oiled areas following the April 2010 blowout of BP's deepwater well, that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf.

    Government scientists and conservation groups had been concerned from the outset about the effects on marine life of the vast amounts of oil that entered the water.

    But Wednesday's study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, produced the strongest evidence to date of the effects of the spill on marine life.

    "The severe disease documented by this study and the continued elevation of mortalities raise significant concerns regarding both short-term and long-term impacts on the Barataria Bay dolphin population," the study said.

    Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director of the Oceana conservation group, said the findings confirmed her fears at the time that the oil spill would take a high toll on dolphins, whales and other marine life in the Gulf.

    "After the spill I saw dolphins swimming in and out of oil slicks, breathing air at the surface that I knew contained hydrocarbons from the spill since I could smell them myself," Savitz said. "The dolphins were likely exposed to the oil in other ways as well, by swallowing water, and through their food. While we have seen an unusual number of dolphin deaths during and after the spill, this report verifies that the oil took a larger toll on dolphins."

    Few of the symptoms in the Barataria Bay dolphins were reported among wild dolphin populations in Sarasota Bay, Florida, which was not oiled during the spill, the scientists said.

    BP has in the past disputed any connection between the oil spill and a mysterious spike in dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico that was first reported three months before the oil spill.

    "The agency still has not provided BP with any data demonstrating that the alleged poor health of any dolphins was caused by oil exposure," Jason Ryan, a company spokesman, said.

    He said the symptoms observed in the study had been seen in other wild dolphin populations exposed to other contaminants, and that there had been a number of unexplained die-offs of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico over the years.

  4. BP Accuses Texas Lawyer of ‘Brazen Fraud’ in Workers’ Claims Over Gulf Oil Spill

    BP on Tuesday accused a Texas lawyer of fraudulently driving up its settlement costs in the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill by claiming to represent tens of thousands of clients who turned out to be “phantoms.”

    In a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in New Orleans, the oil giant, which has been fighting the administration of a settlement with plaintiffs in the courtroom and in the news media, claimed that it relied on the client count supplied by the lawyer, Mikal C. Watts, in 2010 when it put $2.3 billion into a special compensation program for the seafood industry. The company, citing “brazen fraud,” is asking the court to allow it to stop payments and reclaim some of the unspent money.

    The more than 40,000 deckhands claimed as clients by Mr. Watts constituted nearly 80 percent of the people projected to file claims under the program, the company said in court papers.

    In a statement, a lawyer for Mr. Watts, Robert McDuff, called BP’s actions “another of a series of efforts to walk away from the settlement to which it agreed.” He said his client “never committed identity theft and did not defraud BP or anyone else.”

    Mr. Watts, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser who is regarded as a formidable litigator, has said that his clients came through referrals from other lawyers. Mr. McDuff stated that Mr. Watts filed claims “in good faith that legitimate claims were being filed for real people.”

    BP, which has paid nearly $13 billion in claims to businesses, individuals and the government so far, has paid out $1 billion from the seafood fund so far. The company said that 24,520 seafood claims were ultimately filed, and of these, fewer than 5,000 were filed on behalf of individuals. Under the structure of the fund agreed to by BP and plaintiffs’ lawyers and approved by the judge, any money not distributed to seafood workers based on their claims would be given out in a second round. The company does not argue that the workers engaged in wrongful conduct, but said the inflated size of the fund would mean an undeserved “windfall” to members of the class.

    Mr. Watts ultimately filed just 648 individual crew claims through the seafood fund, BP said, and just eight have been found eligible for payment. (Seventeen are pending.) That means, the company said, that “98 percent of the Watts claimants never even filed a claim” with the program, and “96 percent of the claims that he did file have been denied.”

    Mr. Watts has since filed 43,976 claims under a separate compensation program intended to address claims that had been excluded from the settlement agreement. In examining those claims, the company said it found that 40 percent of the claims used Social Security numbers that belonged to someone other than the person supposedly making the claim; 13 percent gave incomplete numbers or obvious fakes such as 000-00-0001. Five percent of the numbers belonged to dead people. “The inference of fraud is overwhelming,” the company stated in its complaint.

  5. BP Accuses Texas Lawyer of ‘Brazen Fraud’ in Workers’ Claims Over Gulf Oil Spill

    BP has argued for months that the claims process is rife with fraud and has paid out claims from people who had no actual losses related to the spill. The federal judge in the case, Carl J. Barbier, appointed former F.B.I. director Louis J. Freeh to investigate the allegations. Mr. Freeh found that the process itself was not corrupt, but did find incidents of conflict of interest and fraud among individual lawyers and staff members of the fund.

    Since then, the company has asked the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, to order changes in the way that the settlement fund is run. That court has ordered Judge Barbier to “give further consideration” to the company’s complaints; Judge Barbier has temporarily halted payments.

    In July 2012, Mr. Watts hosted a $35,800-a-plate event for President Obama at his home. Judge Barbier named him to the committee of plaintiffs’ lawyers that helps run the litigation; he resigned from the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee on March 13 this year, however, not long after Secret Service Agents executed search warrants at his San Antonio law office, a move that the Department of Justice officials suggested was related to the questions about his clients in the BP case.

    Mr. Watts’s client submissions were initially challenged by Kenneth R. Feinberg, who ran the first version of the settlement office after the disaster. Concerns about the claims were first reported in an April 2011 article in The New York Times.

    Lawyers for plaintiffs in the case argued that BP is using the Watts controversy as an excuse to stop payments on the much larger program that affects deserving claimants. In a statement, the lawyers, Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, said “the notion that the number of deckhands was the driving factor during negotiations in determining the overall amount is absurd,” and that just $130 million was allocated to deckhands.

    “BP’s overreaching attempt to hold the entire seafood program hostage is part of its continuing effort to rewrite history and the settlement agreement,” the lawyers said, “and is unfair to the hardworking men and women of the seafood industry whose livelihoods were destroyed by BP’s reckless conduct.”