Offshore seismic survey work has now begun

A SEISMIC survey off Golden Beach has begun this week, as part of a study of the underwater geology for the CarbonNet project.

Many residents remain angry at the project, and a forum at the Longford Hall this Saturday from 3pm has been organised to oppose it.

The meeting will include the screening of an anti-coal seam gas documentary, as an example of how a united community can stop large projects, and there is an “independent expert carbon capture and storage speaker” who will answer questions, though this is still to be confirmed.

CarbonNet is a joint federal and state government project, to find out whether rock formations under Bass Strait would be suitable for storing pressurised liquid carbon dioxide.

New industries, not existing power plants, would theoretically connect to an injection site offshore via pipes, which would probably follow existing underground pipelines.

Experts said the technology was safe, with studies showing there were no risks of leaks or earthquakes.

However, carbon capture and storage is expensive, and opponents say it will contribute to using outdated coal generation technologies when renewables were falling in price.

The seismic testing will use several observers to ensure marine mammals are not affected and to oversee safety protocols for marine life on the sea floor.

There have been assurances that while some fish will move away from the area and eventually return, there would not be any mass fish deaths.

The recent Australia Day weekend fishing competition, which had more than 700 participants, was a success, but there are fears the testing could interfere with the Easter weekend competition at the end of March.

The state government is backing the scientific study, saying it could help combat climate change and create the jobs of the future.

A press release stated independent scientists had assessed Bass Strait as “having some of the most suitable rock formations to store carbon dioxide”.

Resources Minister Tim Pallas said the project could be positive for Gippsland.

“The CarbonNet project holds the promise to be a catalyst for new global investment, industry and jobs in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley, while helping us combat climate change,” he said.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said he had written to the state government on behalf of Golden Beach residents about deferring the seismic testing, but noted the government had chosen to proceed, and added it was important to keep facts in mind when discussing the issue online.

“I understand there is a level of concern in and around Golden Beach about the impact of seismic testing, proposed to start this week, and of the project overall — but some of the misleading commentary I have seen in recent days is very unhelpful,” he said.

The beach will be open to swimmers on weekends, but lifesavers will patrol the beach during the week to stop people swimming, as the noise from the testing can be disruptive if people put their heads in the water while the boat is close to the shore.

Scientists keeping an eye on the vessels have set up shop at the Golden Beach Surf Life Saving Club rooms, which will be open from dawn to dusk to answer questions from the community.