Works began yesterday 24/06/18 on the foreshore…

The Port of Hastings commenced ‘remediation works’ yesterday 24/06/18 on the foreshore adjacent to the Crib Point jetty in Westernport Victoria.  Apparently they have had the go-ahead for this from DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning).  

AGL is proposing to install a Permanent Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) at the jetty for processing imported LNG.

THE PROPOSED AREA IS A RAMSAR DESIGNATED WETLAND OF SIGNIFICANCE.

It appears that NO GOVERNMENT APPROVAL HAS BEEN SOUGHT OR GRANTED FOR THIS PROJECT and AGL HAVE YET TO MAKE THEIR REFERRAL TO THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT.

AGL have contracted the company APA to build a 60km pipeline from the FSRU in Crib Point to supply network in Pakenham.

THE PIPELINE and its 30 METRE EASEMENT WOULD TRAVERSE AND DISRUPT several RAMSAR LISTED WETLANDS ALONG ITS ROUTE, INCLUDING THE NEARBY WARRANGINE CREEK.

The recently commenced works include surveying and stakes for the proposed plant. During public consultation meetings AGL representatives have stated that vegetation would need to be cleared.

The area is an inter-tidal Ramsar listed wetland vital for birdlife (being a significant area for migratory birds); fish breeding; seagrasses; some of the most southerly reaches of mangroves; and has several other highly sensitive ecological characteristics. Westernport is also a designated UNESCO Biosphere.

This critical habitat will be affected by the following:

  • The regasification process of LNG, involving the use of 450 million litres of seawater per day, which gets chlorinated and then released. After being used in the heat exchange process it is approximately 7 degrees colder than the ambient seawater temperature. The chlorination and change in temperature is likely to negatively impact already endangered species, such as the local variety of Ghost shrimp. It will certainly sterilize and kill all microorganisms in the seawater on which they feed. [” Chlorination of the seawater is necessary to slow down marine growth. However, residual chlorine in the seawater effluent can impact the marine life and the usage must be minimized. ” [www.gastechnology.org/training/documents/lng17-proceedings/materials-4-dhirav_patel.pdf ]
  • Ship emissions, including exhaust and venting of gas build up are projected to exceed acceptable levels set out by the EPA.  (See link to technical reports below)
  • Noise pollution, will also exceed the acceptable levels set out by the EPA, including under water noise from the processing plant on board the FSRU ship.
  • Excessive Light pollution, though not addressed in the draft reports, every night, light towers equivalent to those at the MGC will seriously disrupt nocturnal and migratory wildlife, including the endangered Eastern Curlew, the Sandpiper, etc.
  • Increased ship traffic in the bay will heighten potential for collision and spill.
  • Increased potential for marine strike, particularly during the whale season, by the foreign owned and crewed gas tankers unfamiliar with the shallow waters of the bay. 
  • Onshore 50m either side of the jetty will be cleared which will destroy some of Woolley’s reserve and Warrangine Park, where species of endangered native orchids are known to grow.
    The EPA have been contacted regarding whether AGL or APA have applied for a Works Approval for the LNG facility or pipeline.The high risk of bushfire in the surrounding area is always a great concern to local residents, particularly those who experienced the stress of undergoing emergency evacuations in recent summers.

The explosion last month of the TransCanada LNG pipeline in West Virginia has brought the Environmental and Safety hazards of this proposal into sharper focus. That pipeline had been in operation just six months.
And yet Government announced last year that they have “streamlined processes” in order for this disastrous proposal to be fast-tracked. That is the worst possible approach to such a complex proposal with so many hazards on land and water.

The following quote was made by Victorian Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio. 

The location can take advantage of the existing pipeline network and industrial port facility. The government issued a statement on August 9 2017 saying it ‘welcomed AGL’s decision and is working closely with AGL to ensure approvals processes are streamlined to avoid unnecessary delays’. Looking to begin construction in 2019 to come online by 2021.

You can read this yourself on Hotcopper under the heading “Australia

The quote is very concerning. It implies that an agreement existed between the government and AGL as early as last year that they would be relieved of their important Environmental and Safety obligations. 

The quote is also misleading as there currently is no “existing pipeline”. In order to operate the proposed facility would need to be connected to the LNG supply network by the construction of 60km of pipeline to Pakenham.

Also “industrial port facility” exists in Westernport. The recent port expansion was scrapped because the dredging and increased shipping was found to be incompatible with Westernport’s Ramsar status 25% of Westernport is inter-tidal, and the bay is on average only 3-4 metres deep. Yet under the AGL proposal up to 78 foreign tanker ships would need to enter the bay each year with their imported cargo of LNG. These international tankers would moor alongside the permanent factory tanker (FSRU) to unload and process the LNG, which can take up to 3 days. This means the facility would potentially be in operation around the clock for most of the year.

It is also concerning AGL seems to have managed to have the FSRU and the connecting pipeline assessed as entirely independent projects, even though one would never proceed without the other. Having them accessed separately is problematic. It would be misleading and make the cumulative impact and damage of this one project appear much less significant.

UNDER THE FEDERAL ACT, THIS PROJECT SHOULD TRIGGER AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION investigation  and report. 

Apparently that cannot happen until AGL have made their referral to government.  Since this has not happened, how can the AGL project continue to advance in light of the area’s Environmental classification, and the fierce and growing local opposition to the proposal?

AGL is required to engage in “Community Consultation”, but local residents feel their deep concerns for the Environment and their own safety have been ignored. AGL has an extremely poor track record with Environmental safety and public relations. A list of fines awarded against AGL for repeated Environmental breaches and “deceptive and misleading conduct” see here. In this case AGL appears to have given the false impression that the project is necessary and LNG is in short supply.
 
However, Premier Andrews recently admitted on ABC radio that no supply shortage exists!

In addition, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report released last month states that no shortfalls in supply are projected before 2030. The proposed FSRU industrial development at Crib Point is inappropriate and unnecessary, and yet has every appearance of being fast tracked. PLEASE DEMAND THAT ALL WORKS ON THIS PROJECT ARE IMMEDIATELY STOPPED AS A MATTER OF URGENCY until a full EPBC has been carried out and all correct considerations and procedures are observed. Please write to:

Hon Richard Wynne MP
e: richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au
T: (03) 8683 0964
 
Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002