NEWS 28 June 2018 |
A new plan for industrial development threatens Westernport Bay, with a proposed AGL project to ship and store Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from around the globe in our precious bay.
The proposed ‘Crib Point AGL floating regasification project’ has claimed to ‘address the proposed shortfall of gas in Victoria’. The gas could be exported from other areas in Australia to overseas, and then be re-imported to Crib Point where it will be stored in a 300-metre-long floating storage ship. It would then be regasified and connected via a pipeline to Pakenham.
This project poses significant threats to Westernport, a unique tidal bay and wetland with remarkable environmental and recreational values right on the fringe of Melbourne. The bay has an exceptionally high productivity of marine vegetation that supports a very wide range of invertebrates, fish and marine mammals.
Westernport Bay’s significant Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance status protects our migratory birds; one of the largest expanses of saltmarsh in Victoria and a single species of mangrove which represent some of the most southerly extents globally. Not to mention our protected areas – French Island, Churchill Island and Yaringa Marine National Parks.
Westernport Bay could be at risk from:
- Chlorine that will be released into the surrounding seawater as a by-product of the process to prevent ‘biofouling’ or the build-up marine organisms on the facility. (According to AGL’s own consultant report, the chlorine discharge is recognised “…as a potential risk to marine environmental values in the vicinity of Crib Point”. The company’s own preliminary assessment concluded that at the point of discharge levels were higher than the USEPA and ANZECC safe concentrations for free chlorine. This highlights the need for much more extensive research and the highest level of independent environment assessment by state and or federal government.)
- Increase in the numbers of ships coming into Westernport Bay, and therefore the incidences of spills and collisions with marine life. VNPA has done extensive work on the impacts of shipping oil spill impacts on Westernport, which can be found here.
- Increase in greenhouse gas emission at a time when we should be transitioning to renewable energy.
The project has also been criticised by Victorian and federal Ministers as being irresponsible, and that it should not go ahead.
Australia’s Energy Market Operator confirmed in their report released in June 2018 that there is no gas shortage. So there is no justification for AGL to go ahead with this potentially risky new project.
Local Westernport community groups are outraged by the impacts this project could have on the natural values of Westernport. VNPA supported a community-led rally of more than 400 people in Hastings on Sunday 1 July 2018.
Before this project is approved by the state and federal governments, they need to assess the projects likely environmental impacts and how these will be managed. Due to community pressure, AGL extended their deadline for submissions on the project’s environmental studies until Thursday 19 July (now closed)
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