Concerns over carbon capture storage


PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a $500 million investment into a coal to hydrogen project in the Latrobe Valley’s Loy Yang power station.

The ABC reported Coal Innovation Australia stating, “developing a carbon capture and storage system for the emissions was critical to the commercialisation of the technology”.

The Ninety Mile Beach Action Group Against Carbon Storage is disappointed by this announcement, as it allows Latrobe Valley’s negative coal footprint to become significantly larger.

At a forum in February this year, AGL, owners of the Loy Yang A power station and adjacent coal mine, wrote off CCS as a viable option, stating “we don’t believe (carbon capture and storage) is economically viable, and the footprint required doesn’t stack up”.

The state and federal fiscal commitment into Victoria’s CarbonNet CCS project under the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program is $100 billion.

Project representatives informed some local residents of Golden and Paradise Beach in January this year that it would take at least another seven years of research and investment for the project to become viable.

However, as highlighted in last year’s Auditor General’s report, funding for this project will cease in 2020, so where will more CCS investment monies come from?

Currently before Federal Parliament is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Amendment (Carbon Capture and Storage) Bill 2017 with the objective to remove the prohibition on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation investing in carbon capture and storage technologies.

The concern from the community is that this project will be funded by our own taxes to put at risk the unique and important asset that the 90 Mile Beach is.

We remain concerned about the environmental consequences of carbon storage in the chosen offshore area of Gippsland because of the vulnerability of the community to seawater intrusion and potential for significant economic and legal risks.

In 1978, Rosedale Shire Council sent letters to landowners advising of planning controls being placed on properties based on their location.

The sand dunes in the area were determined as being unstable and “not suitable for development”.

If the primary dunes in the area are the only barriers to preventing sea water from inundating several community settlements, why would the government even consider a risky man-made breach to accommodate a new pipeline for captured carbon?

Another consideration is the acceptance that sequestered CO2 leakage may occur, which has the potential for ocean acidification and could have devastating consequences for our marine life.

While our new action group is not made up of scientists or engineers, we do, however, have the ability to read.

With the wealth of information available, it is not difficult to discern that carbon storage off the Ninety Mile Beach carries extreme risks based on environmental and economic factors.