Apache faces $10,000 fine for $3 billion damge

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The American company behind the 2008 Varanus Island explosion that caused $3 billion damage to Australia’s economy is facing a fine of only $10,000.

The case against Apache Northwest is scheduled to be heard next year, almost four years after the disaster that left WA without 30 per cent of its domestic gas supply.

Apache has pleaded not guilty to the charge under the Petroleum Pipelines Act that it did not maintain the pipeline in good condition, which carries a $10,000 penalty.

Apache has been involved in an expensive and acrimonious debate with the state opposition and media to suppress details of a report into the Varanus incident.

The report was handed to Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore 21 months ago.

Moore’s department has been able to have the report exempted from freedom of information laws because its release would be in contempt of the immanent court case.

Opposition leader Eric Ripper said there was strong public interest in the Varanus report, and has been pushing to get access to it.

An Apache spokesperson said the matter was before the courts and the company could not comment on it.

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