Landholders call for investigation into massive gas release

The Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) is calling for an investigation into the environmental and health impacts of a large volume of gas released from a 90km stretch of Origin Energy LNG pipeline which upset cattle and took landholders by surprise.

Landholders up to 25km down-wind from the release at Downfall Creek, about 30km south east of Wandoan, could hear the venting on May 25. Local farmer Neville Stiller, who lives about 8km away, described the May 25 release like “listening to an F1-11 roaring for a couple of hours”.

A second gas release occurred on July 13. [Video footage of the second gas release on 13 July can be found at]. Mr Stiller has told BSA that the volume going into the sky during the first release on May 25 was around four times higher and significantly louder compared to what can be witnessed on the footage from July 13.

BSA Chair Lyn Nicholson said that she had been informed that only landholders in a 6km radius of the Downfall Creek release were forewarned that the release would occur.

“After the first release, we understand Origin expanded their notification area. If they can get something as straightforward as noise modelling so wrong, then how can we be sure the CSG companies have a handle on other risks,” Ms Nicholson said.

“With another compressor station within a kilometre from the Downfall Creek site, a public road only 250 metres away, and about 12 families within a 10km radius, we need to be asking why there was little to no supervision of the release by government environmental authorities.”

BSA understands there was also gas released from the other end of the pipeline at Reedy Creek.

“We are unsure how many landholders were affected at the Reedy Creek end, however we have heard anecdotally that some people were so terrified of the noise, and unsure what it was, that they were preparing to evacuate their homes.”

Ms Nicholson said this was yet another example of how landholders were being put at risk with little consultation or consideration by CSG companies and Government.

BSA is awaiting further details on the gas release and the pipeline repair from Origin Energy and would like to know if it was permitted under their environmental authority. It is understood that the pipeline repair and release occurred on the property of Gasfields Commissioner, Don Stiller.

“We’d like to know why so much gas had to be released, why there isn’t a second pressure valve available so that you don’t have to vent 90km of pipeline to do one repair.”

“If someone comes to service a household air-conditioner, they have to capture the gas, so why are CSG companies allowed to let this gas go into the atmosphere? We are spending millions of dollars trying to reduce CO2 emissions and yet, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is understood to be about 25 times greater than CO2.”

“While there was pressure on the cattle industry to be looking for ways to reduce methane emissions from cattle, the CSG industry seems to be allowed to fly under the radar.”

Ms Nicholson said aside from the noise and environmental impacts, venting of so much gas could be throwing away potential revenue for Queensland.

“We have been told that Origin did pay royalties on the gas that was vented from the pipeline, however, we would like some assurance from the Queensland Government that gas vented in this way does not result in Queenslanders’ money disappearing into thin air.”

“We have to ask, is the financial gain worth all the risk and pain?”