Gas plant plans could threaten fossils

Aug. 1, 2012 at 7:27 PM   |   Comments

BRISBANE, Australia, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Paleontologists in Australia say important 130-million-year-old fossilized dinosaur footprints are threatened by plans to build a liquid natural gas refinery.

The footprints of herds of giant dinosaurs are in sandstone at James Price Point in Western Australia, where the state Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that the state's environment minister approve a project to build a 10-square-mile facility to liquefy and export gas from the adjacent offshore Browse basin, NewScientist.com reported.

Critics are concerned by plan to build a large industrial port over more than a mile of intertidal zone that contains a Cretaceous landscape of fossilized plants, as well as tracks left by vast herds of sauropods and other dinosaurs.

Australian oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum, which would build the facility, said it would interfere with less than 1 percent of the accessible coast and would avoid known tracks, but researchers say they still have concerns.

"This is one of the only places in the world where we can look at the potential distribution of different types of dinosaurs across a big geographic expanse," Steven Salisbury of the University of Queensland in Brisbane said. "Before we've even had a chance to work any of this stuff out, we're facing the possibility of losing it."

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