Geelong Renewables Not Gas (GRNG) was formed in response to Viva Energy’s proposal to build a gas terminal in Corio Bay. Since the announcement of the gas terminal GRNG’s mission has been to investigate the possible dangers that could come with building such a facility.
The floating gas terminal would be located close to Ramsar Wetlands near Geelong Grammar in Northern Corio Bay. GRNG Campaign Organiser, Sally Fisher, said their concern is about possible safety and security risks associated with potential incidents during the transport of the LNG tankers via the Heads to the proposed floating gas terminal in Corio Bay.
“LNG is transported at very low temperatures, minus 160 degrees (C), and if there is an incident with the ship and a cargo tank is breached, a large diameter LNG pool may form on top of the water. An asphyxiating flammable vapour cloud will drift downwind of the spill up to 2.5 km. If the drifting gas ignites, a large pool fire will result and people are at risk of serious burns up to 3.5kms away from the LNG spill” Mrs Fisher said.
So how would an accident potentially affect
people living in the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula? Mrs Fisher said if there is an incident with the tankers such as a grounding, collision or a deliberate attack, studies conducted on behalf of the United States Government have shown that it can have an immediate impact on residents who live within 3.5km of the incident.
“Mapping analysis using Census data shows us that 3827 residents living in Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale and a further 5055 at Portsea, Sorrento and Rosebud residents are living within 3.5kms of LNG tankers if they enter the Heads (see Hazard zones map below). Best practice is to keep LNG shipping and terminal facilities remotely from public and residential areas. No other LNG facility in Australia is located within 3.5kms of residential areas. If the project is allowed to proceed, the LNG tankers would be simply too close to public and residential areas”, she said.
GRNG has also raised the point that investing in gas infrastructure right now is completely at odds with the strategic directions of many local Councils, many of whom are now seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and gas use within their jurisdictions.
The City of Greater Geelong, the Borough of
Queenscliff and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council have passed ambitious Climate Change Plans which call for a rapid reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions. Mornington Peninsula Shire previously opposed the gas import terminal proposed for Westernport Bay.
“Investing in gas infrastructure now is a road to nowhere as we should be reducing our use of gas if we are serious about acting on climate change. Furthermore, renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner than burning fossil fuels such as gas and can now be stored cost-effectively” Mrs Fisher said.
Studies commissioned by Environment Victoria have established that all-electric homes are $700/year cheaper to operate than homes which use gas. The Victorian State Government is offering subsidies for households to replace their gas heaters with more efficient, safer and less polluting electric heaters.
“As Victoria’s gas usage is dominated by household heating demand, this means that demand for gas should and will fall into the future”, Mrs Fisher said.
What does the research say?
The potential Hazard Zones were defined by the US Department of Energy as:
Zone 1: (0-500m) Significant chance of fatality for people with instantaneous exposure (due to fire, asphyxiation or freezing).
Zone 2: 500m- 1.6km. Possibility that extended exposure would result in fatality
Zone 3: 1.6km- 3.5km. Possibility of burns in the event that a vapour cloud extends into this zone and ignites.
Concerned about multiple impacts from the gas terminal proposal, 110 locals attended a protest at North Shore in early November. Geelong residents were addressed by a local oil and gas professional and a climate scientist.
Mrs Fisher said North Shore residents are concerned about the public safety issues if there is an incident with the tankers or the Terminal as many live within Hazard Zone 1 (within 500m).
“This could lead to fatalities if there is an incident close to them. Fishermen were concerned about their access to the Bay as there may be exclusion zones around the tankers and terminal required to protect the vessels from attack/accidents” she said.
If you want to voice your opinion on the matter you can sign the petition on their website https://geelongrenewablesnotgas.org/petition/