In­quiry told art at risk

Pilbara News - - News - Phoebe Wearne

The Bur­rup Penin­sula’s gallery of Abo­rig­i­nal rock art could be lost within gen­er­a­tions if noth­ing is done to save it, sci­en­tists have told a Par­lia­men­tary in­quiry.

More than a mil­lion pet­ro­glyphs de­pict­ing the Ngurra Nyu­junggamu — the soft time of cre­ation — sit un­com­fort­ably close to in­dus­try on the penin­sula. The Se­nate’s en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mit­tee is in­ves­ti­gat­ing State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­di­tions reg­u­lat­ing in­dus­try near the col­lec­tion of rock art, which is reg­is­tered on the Na­tional Her­itage List.

The in­quiry comes af­ter rev­e­la­tions that er­rors by the CSIRO may have placed the rock art at risk. Pro­fes­sor John Black, a for­mer deputy di­vi­sional chief at the CSIRO, told the in­quiry cor­ro­sive emis­sions from nearby in­dus­try would have dam­ag­ing im­pacts on the en­grav­ings.

He ar­gued the CSIRO should with­draw its rec­om­mended max­i­mum acid emis­sion lev­els for the rock art, as the sci­ence on which the rec­om­men­da­tion was based was not ap­pro­pri­ate.

Stock­holm En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tute’s Jo­han Kuylen­stierna said part of his re­search that had been used to set the acid de­po­si­tion lev­els “should be with­drawn” by the CSIRO.

How­ever, CSIRO re­search group leader Melita Key­wood said the re­search was the best in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the agency at the time.

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