CSG group claims growing opposition

THERE is a groundswell of opposition to coal seam gas mining and exploration in Gippsland, according to a local opposition group.

Wellington Shire Council this week received a petition with 211 signatures opposing coal seam exploration and mining in Wellington Shire and Gippsland.

Coal Seam Gas Wellington Awareness Group member Morgan Knoesen, whose Wurruk properly is in an area which falls within an exploration licence, said he was overwhelmed by the response of the public to the petition and recent events opposing CSG, including a rally in Sale.

“We now have members in Briagolong, Seaspray, Maffra, Tinamba, Heyfield and the group is growing,” he said.

“There’s overwhelming community support supporting (council) motioning against coal seem gas or unconventional coal mining.”

Council is yet to state its position on CSG mining.

Mr Knoesen also expressed concerns about the gas conditioning plant being built at the Esso Longford plant.

He claimed the facility would release one million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

“In a time that we should be looking to reduce our carbon output, we’re actually looking at increasing it,” Mr Knoesen said.

“With the current ecological damage which has occurred there since November in terms of air pollution and local pollution through two million litres of oil spill at the site and the CFA having to deal with their fire problems, I think expansion of this industry is not the way forward for a progressive council.”

On November 19 a mixture of crude oil and condensate was discharged into an open retention pond at Esso’s Longford plants at a level which was higher than usual, causing an unpleasant odour to be emitted.

“If Esso does something wrong, at what point does the Wellington Shire take accountability for the mess that’s going to continue for next 40 years?” Mr Knoesen asked council.

A spokesperson for Esso’s parent company ExxonMobil said gas sourced from Kipper Tuna Turrum project and processed in the gas conditioning plant had the potential to reduce Victoria’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 11 million tonnes per year if used to generate 2000 megawatts of base load electricity instead of brown coal.

“Esso will comply with all state and federal government regulations and policies regarding emissions from the gas conditioning plant,” the spokesperson said.

The ExxonMobil spokesperson said Esso had identified and stopped the discharge in November and undertook measures to minimise the odour.

“We informed the EPA and WorkSafe within 24 hours.

“It is important to note that the product was contained at all times in an area that is designed to treat oily water resulting from our production processes.

“We are, however, disappointed that this incident occurred and have taken steps to prevent it from happening again.”

´╗┐For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.