Farms along the proposed 413km route of the Hunter Gas Pipeline produce cattle, grains, vegetables and fruit (some organic). This major gas infrastructure threatens all agricultural enterprises along the route and yet they have no protection from this toxic industry.
Santos, the owner of the Narrabri Gas Project and the Hunter Gas Pipeline, plans to expand into areas along the route in the areas where they have approval to explore for more coal seam gas.
Hunter Gas Pipeline Route
The route of the 40m wide easement, cleared for the construction phase of the pipeline runs through –
- Farms creating biosecurity risks
- Prime agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains which is leading to exploration for coal seam gas in the area
- Soil types known for steel corrosion and movement
- Many places where it will hit the water table if buried 900mm deep
- Flood zones and flood/erosion prone areas
- Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation Scheme infrastructure e.g levee banks
- Koala and platypus habitat
- The newly announced Mt Tangray Nature Reserve, splitting it in two
- Areas where at least one local real estate agent has devalued land by 30% because of the pipeline.
The pipeline was approved using data from the original application from 2008 which even then was inaccurate and 10 years out of date. It is now 25 years out of date. The Coalition government ticked the pipeline off in 2009 at the end of a process that included:
- A number of independent companies using old data to conduct desktop studies that were presented to NSW Department of Planning to support the Hunter Gas Pipeline and the selected route. The data downplayed
- the numbers of resident landholders, and local communities, who would be impacted by both the construction process and the operational phase of the pipeline
- the risks of impact incidents to residents and workers, on rural and rural/residential lands
- The route runs through land types and landforms that Hunter Gas Pipeline’s own risk assessments cautioned against.
The Hunter Gas Pipeline is a high pressure gas transmission pipeline which are
- Not permitted to be built alongside major roads as they are considered to be too dangerous
- Prone to being washed out, reappearing above ground. They are subsequently covered with rocks, permanently affecting productive land
- Impacted by incidents due to normal farming/land management activities
- Impacted by extreme weather events and soil movement – e.g. Due to flooding, a gas leak on APA’s Young-Lithgow Pipeline was detected on the 3 November 2022 where the pipeline runs underground beneath the Macquarie River. More heavy rain delayed access to the site. The gas was cut off to stop the leak and temporary gas supplies were made available to three towns. It was not until 19 December that the new permanent pipeline was completed.
Risks are not being managed in Santos’ other facilities
- Santos has been fined heavily, twice, and criticised by judges, the Unions and employees, for accidents on their Moomba Pipeline infrastructure (2001 – one employee dead. 2004 – 1 employee injured and 14 only avoided serious injury/death by seconds)
- In February 2023 days after a gas leak forced the closure of a Santos platform off the West Australian coast, the state’s safety regulator found 10 other platforms around Varanus Island were in a state of dangerous disrepair.