Offshore geotechnical investigations complete

Drilling for a well is expected to begin off Golden Beach later this year or early 2020.
Drilling for a well is expected to begin off Golden Beach later this year or early 2020.

CARBONNET'S offshore geotechnical investigations at Golden Beach are now complete, and drilling for an offshore well is expected to begin later this year or early 2020.

A CarbonNet project update newsletter stated the investigations, which included seabed sampling and coring, "will confirm" the proposed drilling site is able to support a drill rig.

Drilling will assess the potential for carbon dioxide storage deep underneath Bass Strait, with rock samples from the appraisal well enabling scientists to verify the properties of the subsea geology.

But the government-owned CarbonNet Project has been the ire of many 90 Mile Beach locals, who say their homes have been damaged by seismic testing last year.

CarbonNet is investigating the potential for establishing a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage network to bring together multiple carbon dioxide capture projects in the Latrobe Valley, transporting the gas via a shared pipeline and injecting it into deep underground, offshore storage sites in Bass Strait.

Its prioritised site, Pelican, is about seven kilometres offshore from Golden Beach.

In early 2018, a marine seismic survey which sent sound pulses into the water at set intervals was carried out over 166 square kilometres to obtain additional geological information.

But immediately after the testing, several residents said they noticed damage to their homes, including cracks in plaster and external walls.

Mark Maybury said he had an independent assessment done of his home after he noticed the damage, with the report confirming the cracks that appeared in his external walls were caused by tremors.

He said several conversations with CarbonNet representatives and initial commitments tocover the cost of repairs went "nowhere".

"It's really not fair; I've got proof the damage to my house was caused by the seismic testing, but now they won't do anything about it and they don't even answer my calls anymore."

Another Golden Beach resident, who did not want to be identified in case it jeopardises her claim for repair costs, said she had heard of others whose properties had been damaged as a result of the testing.

"We are still waiting to hear back from CarbonNet about the damage and cracks and what they are prepared to do," she said.

"My home definitely didn't have these cracks before the testing."

CarbonNet director Ian Filby said independent engineers had examined homes in Golden Beach and found that any structural damage could not be attributed to the 2018 marine seismic survey.

He said within 24 hours of an initial local report of excessive vibrations, an independent noise and vibration assessor attended the town and monitoring equipment was installed.

Mr Filby said the reports provided to home owners contained information that was confidential, however one report shown to the Gippsland Times, which Mr Filby said was "representative of all properties" examined,stated there was "no structural damage to the premises".

He said the independent report noted it was "very difficult to comprehend" that the magnitude of vibration could have any resultant affect on the building structure or fine finishes.

Last Wednesday marked the first day of a 21-day trial of the CSIRO Saildrone platform, at Golden Beach, during which wind-powered Unmanned Surface Vehicles will assess different sailing survey patterns and test the capability of bio-acoustic and carbon dioxide systems to map and monitor background variability at the proposed CarbonNet Site.

As part of its marine research and climate data projects, CSIRO has teamed with technology start-up Saildrone to deploy the state-of-the-art vehicles to study oceans and climate over the next five years on missions around Australia and into the Southern Ocean.

The pre-programmed USVs are controlled remotely, but can be directed via satellite communication, with data transmitted back to shore via satellite.