Massive erosion around a high pressure gas pipeline owned by APA Group on the Liverpool Plains following flooding shows the kind of destruction farmers will be forced to grapple with if Santos builds its gigantic Hunter Gas Pipeline.
Farmers are now calling for an independent and urgent review of the risks to public safety posed by Santos's proposal.
Images captured this week and last week show the gaping chasm along a Central Ranges Gas Pipeline that travels between Dubbo to Tamworth via the Liverpool Plains, and an apparent feeble attempt to block access to the pipeline using a plastic barrier.
It’s not the first time erosion has exposed parts of the Central Ranges Pipeline, with similar incidents occurring in other flood years.
The damaged part of the pipeline is located along Rockgedgiel Road, Bundella, about 70 kilometres from Quirindi and about 50km from where Santos has proposed building its much larger Hunter Gas Pipeline.
Grazier Megan Kuhn, who lives 10km from the chasm said it was an ongoing safety risk.
“We believe the rain event that exposed this pipeline ,which is only metres off the road, occurred more than two weeks ago, but also that the ground area around this part of the pipeline has been deteriorating for months," she said.
“This is a well trafficked road so my immediate concern is for people’s safety. It’s not just cars but trucks and heavy farm machinery as well and there’s no signposting to alert people of the serious danger. If a vehicle leaves the road in these difficult weather conditions we're experiencing it would prove disastrous.
“Given the pipeline was constructed in 2006, this is a clear example of what can happen when gas companies build pipelines on vertisol soils and the ongoing legacy gasfield infrastructure leaves, burdening farming communities in perpetuity.
"Gas infrastructure and agriculture cannot coexist. The weather conditions we have experienced lately are proof that there will be more of these incidents if Santos builds its Hunter Gas Pipeline.
“Gas infrastructure on farms is a dangerous mix that will render people’s properties useless if this happens.”
Mullaley Pipeline Accord spokesperson Margaret Fleck said farmers feared similar washouts would occur all along Santos’ Hunter Gas Pipeline if it was built.
“This is what farmers have been worried about ever since companies like Santos and APA decided they wanted to rip up fragile vertisol soils and plough their pipelines through hundreds of kilometres of farmland.
“Unlike APA’s Central Ranges Pipeline, there is still an opportunity right now to stop Santos from ever building its destructive project.
“The Perrottet Government needs to stand up to Santos and listen to the farmers who are saying the Hunter Gas Pipeline is totally unacceptable.”