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Pathetic response from State Government to dangerous methane blast at Western Downs

Western Downs landholders say the State Government’s response to two high-concentration methane blasts near Wandoan was “pathetic”.

Shay Dougall from the Hopeland Community Sustainability Group demanded to see the company's risk assessment for the public and livestock and asked why the government was answering for the company about the blasts.

Origin Energy has twice released very large volumes of gas from 90 km of pipeline in order to replace a faulty valve. The first occasion was May 25 and the most recent, shown here in video footage, happened on July 13.

On both occasions the noise of the venting could be heard as far away as 25 kilometres. Some residents were not warned about the venting and they have serious health concerns about the exposure to the high concentrations of methane, potential ignition sources and complete lack of community consultation and consideration.

Following complaints about the possible health impacts and noise from the blasts, the government said they were “planned, corrective maintenance activity.”  Mrs Dougall said this statement did not gel with the description of basic industry safety principles.

She said Origin and the government were treating the public with “contempt”, further straining already tense relationships. 

“If it was a safe industry practice, then I want to see the risk assessment that was done before the government allowed both of the incredible blasts,” Mrs Dougall said. 

“This government claims to be transparent and accountable but all we can see out here is people getting sick from coal seam gas, farmers being rail-roaded by mining companies and the government doing a lot of talking for the industry but not much talking for the people.”

Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton said:  "It is not safe for people or the environment to vent 90 kms of compressed methane into the atmosphere and it should not be allowed to happen again.”

He also questioned the royalties lost to the state by venting such as this around the state.

“I would like to know from the Queensland Government how much methane is being vented or flared from coal seam gas infrastructure and how much of this are the companies paying royalties on,” he said.

“I would also like to see a full cost/benefit analysis of this industry, given the small amount of royalties currently coming to the government.”

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