The energy colossus Santos is accused of killing dolphins in Australia

an upside-down dead dolphin floating

The severity of an oil spill that killed dolphins off Western Australia (WA) last year is alleged to have been downplayed by an energy company.

According to a statement made public by a whistleblower this week and read in parliament, dead dolphins were discovered floating close to the oil slick left behind by Santos in March.

Santos has previously refuted claims that the spill from its Varanus Island facility was to blame for the deaths.

A comment has not yet been received from the Australian company.

The incident had a "minor spill" and "negligible" environmental impact, the company told the WA Today newspaper in April.

In November, it was amended to state that the dead dolphins had been discovered "a few hours after" the spill, arguing that this was too soon for it to have been the cause of their demise.

However, the whistleblower argued that since the company didn't send environmental experts to the island until more than a week after the incident, it couldn't be sure.

Independent Senator David Pocock read out the statement from a former Santos employee on Thursday.

The Lowendal Islands, which are located about 75 km (46 miles) off the coast of Western Australia, are renowned for their "pristine white sand beaches," "gorgeous blue turquoise water," and "abundant marine and bird life," according to the employee.

In contrast, he claimed that after 25,000 litres of condensate leaked from an underwater hose, sea snakes "writhed in agony" and other marine life suffered.

The whistleblower stated, "I was then shocked at the public comment from Santos.

"There are dead dolphins and sea snakes, tens of thousands of liters of oil in the ocean. This was so insignificant, how?".

They continued by saying that Santos had violated its obligations by allegedly sending environmental assessors later than planned.

They claimed that because it was never checked, they could not have known the impact's true magnitude.

They claimed that Santos' actions were "deceptive" and "contrary to its internal code of conduct... and, possibly, the law," adding that other staff members had also raised concerns internally.

The statement's author, Mr. Pocock, stated that he found the testimony and video to be "very distressing.".

According to him, both Santos' actions and the incident's impact on marine environment protections are seriously in question.

The latest mark on the oil company's "very poor environmental and safety record" is the spill, according to WA's top conservation organization, which told the BBC.

It's crucial that regulators use Santos as an example. Simply put, meager fines are insufficient to keep this kind of thing from occurring again, according to Maggie Wood.

She also expressed worry over the fact that the accusations had only surfaced a year after the incident and were the result of a whistleblower.

How many similar incidents might we be unaware of because people like Santos failed to inform us?

Santos has not yet made a statement to the public and has not responded to inquiries from the BBC.

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