Inquiry into Protection of Aboriginal rock art of the Burrup Peninsula to have its initial hearing later this week

In response to serious concerns about the impact of industrial emissions on Burrup rock art and the failure of CSIRO and State Government monitoring, the Australian Greens last year successfully moved for the establishment of a Senate Inquiry into Protection of Aboriginal Rock Art of the Burrup Peninsula.

Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) have been advocating for Murujuga/Burrup’s rock art protection for many years. FARA has made a submission to the inquiry and FARA co-convenor Judith Hugo will be making a presentation to the inquiry when it opens in Canberra this Friday 17 February.

Inquiry submissions by FARA and Emeritus Professor John Black are available at

Burrup rock art

Industrial emissions close to rocks rich in petroglyphs

What are the inquiry’s terms of reference?

The inquiry’s terms of reference into Burrup rock art in detail are as follows:

  1. the total industrial pollution load from existing industrial activities and port zone on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, and its existing impacts on Aboriginal rock art;
  2. the projected additional pollution load from the Yara Pilbara Fertilisers Pty Ltd ammonium nitrate plant, including the likely impacts on the Aboriginal rock art, human health and the environment;
  3. the accuracy and adequacy of reports used by the Western Australian and Commonwealth governments when setting the relevant technical, environmental and cultural conditions regulating the construction and operation of the Yara Pilbara Fertilisers Pty Ltd ammonium nitrate plant in an area of highly significant Aboriginal rock art;
  4. the rigour and adequacy of the monitoring, analysis, compliance and enforcement performed by the Western Australian and Commonwealth government agencies in carrying out their legislated responsibilities in overseeing industries on the Burrup Peninsula;
  5. the projected level of fugitive gas and nitric acid leaks from the Yara Pilbara fertiliser and ammonium nitrate plants, their effects on human health, likely effects on rock art and the general environment, and the adequacy of the company responses;
  6. the failure by Yara Pilbara Fertilisers Pty Ltd, the Western Australian Government or the Federal Government to include risk analysis of establishing an ammonium nitrate plant in close proximity to the rock art, a gas hub and major port and in a cyclone surge zone;
  7. the adequacy of the Yara Pilbara plans to protect the communities of Dampier and Karratha and the rock art sites from the consequences of any explosion caused by ‘sympathetic detonation’ or other factors, including the ability to douse the nitrate stores with sufficient water to prevent a spontaneous explosion; and
  8. any related matters.