Graham Creek Concerns
  |  First Published: July 2011

Al and I went on a run to Graham Creek recently for a couple of reasons. We went to have a look at the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) work being carried out on Curtis Island and to check out the impact the current LNG work has on fishing in Graham Creek.

The construction work has pretty much stripped bare large sections of the island facing the harbour. There is considerably more work yet to be done, but the work at the moment remains south of Graham Creek. While there is unloading occurring at Baird Point right at the mouth of Graham Creek, there is little obvious work visible once inside Graham Creek itself.

Graham Creek and The Narrows is one of fishing locoations that “must remain untouched” in Gladstone, as outlined in the LNG Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The mining of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) which is being transported to Curtis Island via pipeline is riddled with environmental problems of a mammoth scale.

It has caused catastrophic problems for those in the areas from which it is mined. Water quality has been destroyed and land areas of waterways have been decimated. For more information and balanced views just Google CSG or check the interviews on YouTube.

Gladstone is unlikely to suffer the same dire consequences from the mining but the pipeline will mean dredging and reduction of public access to these once pristine fishing locations.

The EIS states: “It is unlikely that areas directly adjacent to the LNG facilities in the Curtis Island Industry Precinct will remain open for public access. For safety the LNG loading jetties will have an exclusion zone radius of 250m.”

While it is not anticipated that there will be any restriction of access to Graham Creek due to the project, it is expected that the Total Suspended Solids (TSS) will be elevated within the harbour, inside Graham Creek and down to The Narrows particularly during the dredging program.

The EIS says: “Operation of the proposed LNG Plant requires transmission of CSG from the upstream gas fields to Curtis Island. The gas transmission pipeline, at the crossing to Curtis Island, could potentially impact on a relatively undisturbed coastal wetland habitat and the waterways of The Narrows and Graham Creek that are recognised as a near pristine area of state significance under the Regional Coastal Management Plan.”

The Curtis Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan identifies one of the coastal management issues for The Narrows as adjacent, increasing development that has the potential to adversely impact on the relatively pristine water quality with subsequent impacts on marine biodiversity. It is recognised that dredging activities, industrial discharges, disturbance of coastal and marine habitats and marine pollution will have an adverse impacts on coastal resources.

So what that means in the long term is anyone’s guess. But you would have to be blind Freddy to not believe that fishing and crabbing activities in Graham Creek and The Narrows will change significantly because of this development. I understand the economic importance of the LNG to Gladstone (and Australia) and I understand that Gladstone is (arguably) one of Australia’s most important industrial ports.

I must add that for a very busy industrial harbour, fishing within and surrounding Gladstone is pretty darn good. Let’s hope this development of the LNG does not come at the cost of recreational fishing in our community.

At the moment though, fishing and crabbing in Graham Creek is great. Al and I were hammered by all sorts of fish in the few hours we were there. We simply anchored up so that we could cast into quite a large drain on the southern edge across from Hobble Gully. We were pulling bream, grunter, Moses perch, fingermark and whiting all morning.

Just before the tide reached its mid day high, we moved into the old jetty in Rawbelle Creek just to put the final touches to the icebox. Once again we were hit be all the usual creek species. These fish weren’t very big and most were returned to the water to fight again another day, but a good feed of fish found its way into the ice box for dinner that night.

This is still an indication, and the proof as they say is in the icebox, that this waterway is still in pretty good condition.

The FACTS on CSG and LNG

What is CSG?

Coal seam gas or CSG is a natural gas which is mainly composed of methane. It is a by-product of ancient plant matter that has formed over millions of years by the same natural processes which produce coal.

As an end-use product, CSG is the same as natural gas. In Australia it is used in natural gas appliances, for example, heaters and stoves. It is also used by various industries for the generation of electricity.

What is LNG?

Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG is a natural gas that has been cooled to minus 161°C, the point at which gas condenses into a liquid. When natural gas is cooled into liquid form, its volume is reduced to 1/600 of its original size. An example would be a 43cm beach ball being reduced to the size of a ping pong ball. This liquefaction process allows gas to be shipped and stored safely and economically to markets throughout the world.

Natural gas, the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels, is odourless and colourless in liquid form. LNG is non-corrosive and non-toxic and will not pollute land or water resources. LNG is lighter than water and when exposed to air quickly vapourises.

The vapour has only 55 percent of the density of air, so the gas vapour floats away if a release were to occur. LNG is not stored under pressure, so it is not explosive in the storage tanks at the plant or on a ship. LNG will not explode if released into the atmosphere.

(The above information is credited to www.aplng.com.au)

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