Seaweed farmers sue over Aussie oil spill

More than 15,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers have launched a Sydney lawsuit claiming a 2009 oil spill in Northern Australia destroyed their livelihoods.

The class action, led by Daniel Sanda, is against the oil company PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd and relates to the Montara oil spill that resulted in thousands of barrels of oil pouring into the Timor Sea over 70 days.

Opening the case in the Federal Court n Monday, their barrister Julian Sexton SC alleged the company was negligent in failing to safely operate the Montara wellhead and the incident had been foreseeable.

The mixture of the oil and chemical dispersants, used after the spill, led to the solution spreading and destroying the seaweed crop and industry for that year and many years after, he said.

The oil field was located about 250km northwest of the West Australian coast and about 700km from Darwin.