Gas Storage FAQs
A: Health risks to the community will be negligible.
The design and construction of the facility will be in line with energy-efficient technology. There will be some gas emissions as part of standard operations created through the liquefaction process (i.e. the process to make liquefied natural gas). As is standard practice in gas facilities, the plant will have a flare to release gas build up from time to time.
No. A small amount of gas will be burnt via the flare.
A: Yes. Flooding studies considered a rise in sea level. The site is not at risk of rising sea levels.
The Project includes an above ground insulated tank kept at atmospheric pressure, along with associated plant infrastructure. The natural gas is cooled to about minus 162°C and stored as a liquid known as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). When LNG is needed, it is warmed up and converted back into natural gas.
The tank height from the ground to the roof apex will be up to 56 metres.
During times of lower gas use when there is extra gas, natural gas is supplied to the NGSF from the existing gas network via the project's 5.5 kilometer pipeline from the existing gas network. The gas is purified and refrigerated (liquefaction) to -162°C, the point where methane condenses to a liquid form. It is then pumped into the 30,000 cubic meter insulated storage tank.
When demand for gas becomes high, such as during the winter months when people use it to heat their homes, the stored LNG can be heated until it is a gas (vaporisation) and re-injected into the gas distribution network for distribution to Newcastle, Central Coast and Greater Hunter regions.
The pipeline is approximately 5.5km long.
During construction of the GSF, up to 300 people will be employed. Once constructed, up to 15 permanent full-time employees will be required.
The development will result in an investment by AGL of about $310 million.
AGL will keep the local community updated throughout the planning and construction phases to ensure residents and local businesses are fully informed. AGL will update this website as relevant information becomes available. We also have a Community Consultative Committee (CCC) in place. Alternatively, the community can contact members of the project team directly. Our contact information can be found below.
Newcastle Gas Storage
Locked Bag 1837 St Leonards NSW 2065
Direct 1300 473 660
LNG is natural gas which has been cooled down sufficiently to form a liquid at atmospheric pressure. LNG is not like LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) which has to be stored under pressure.
As a liquid, the risk of LNG burning is extremely low. It is colourless, odourless and non-toxic. It does not mix with water and leaves no residue.
The hazards associated with LNG are similar to those of natural gas except that it is much cooler and therefore forms a much smaller gas cloud for the same size release.
If LNG did escape from its storage containment to the environment, it would form a pool and begin warming immediately and returning to its gaseous form. As the gas warms up, the vapours become lighter than air and rise into the atmosphere and dissipate.
LNG and natural gas are mainly composed of methane gas. Methane vapour is only flammable if it is within the concentration range of 5-15% gas in air, otherwise it is non-flammable.
A: Construction and ongoing operation of the gas facility is not considered to be a high risk to the shallow underlying groundwater used as raw water for Newcastle's drinking water supply. Most facilities will be above ground, and surface water and groundwater monitoring systems will be in place to ensure early detection of any impacts. In the highly unlikely event of any spill/leak, LNG will evaporate so there is no risk to groundwater from the stored gas.
Several layers of protection measures are proposed to protect the groundwater against the risks of contamination, including:
- controlling all stormwater runoff from construction sites
- providing sedimentation basins for all surface water runoff from disturbed areas
- separating clean water (water from undisturbed areas) from potentially impacted water from construction activities
- building temporary and permanent infrastructure to capture any spills or leaks
- collecting and storing waste water before transporting offsite for treatment or disposal
- pumping stormwater from the site to the Port Stephens Council drainage system at Old Punt Road
- ongoing water monitoring to ensure water quality is maintained.
A: Any spill of flammable material will be contained within the site area. If there is a fire subsequent to a spill, then the fire will be allowed to burn - LNG will vaporise and burn itself out. AGL is building the gas storage facility on a 28 ha parcel of land within the larger 250 ha industrial site at Tomago. This land is subject to bushfire threat. The required buffer zone will be maintained around the gas plant, the processing plant and storage tank to minimise the bushfire risk. The facility has been designed to operate with low potential bush fire threat. As is the case for all major fires, people around the site will need to evacuate the area to prevent injury from heat radiation. The buffer to the boundary fence will prevent immediate injury from radiation.
There are a number of key project benefits at national, state and local levels. These include:
- Supporting the NSW State Government initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emission targets
- Reducing NSW's dependence on gas imported from interstate, providing a more secure and continuous supply
- Creating flow-on economic benefits to the region during the construction, commissioning and operational phases, such as employment opportunities.
- Providing greater security of gas supply, particularly during peak load periods
- Providing infrastructure support for the growing gas supply industry in NSW
The Gas Storage Facility will process, handle and store substantial quantities of LNG. The facility will be designed to Australian and International standards to minimise the risk of an incident happening and provide mitigation measures in the event an incident does occur.
More than 100 small and large scale LNG storage facilities are in operation in the United States and Europe. A similar facility to this Project was built in Dandenong, Victoria, in 1980 and has experienced no adverse incidents.
The construction, commissioning and operation of the Project will be subject to Government approvals processes, including the Work Cover Safety Case process, minimising risk to workers and the community.
The safety, efficiency and stability of the Project will be achieved through the use of high-integrity safety systems, regular preventative maintenance programs, detection and protective measures. Security measures will include security patrols, protective enclosures, lighting and monitoring equipment.
The site and plant layout will ensure that any operational issues are contained within the site boundaries, including an appropriate buffer zone as required under legislation.
The main power for the facility is being provided from AusGrid's high voltage (33kV) network at a point in the network where two independent power networks meet, thereby providing redundant power supply. Should both sources of power fail, the gas storage facility has an emergency diesel power generation system designed to maintain all safety and integrity systems operational in case of a complete power failure.
AGL aims to be ready to deliver gas to market from the Project in 2015. To meet this target, construction began in early 2012.
The NGSF will store liquefied natural gas (LNG) for supply to the greater Newcastle region. Once complete, the $310 million facility will include:
- A gas plant site, including gas processing equipment and a storage tank
- An access road and utility corridor
- A natural gas receiving station, and
- An LNG tanker loading facility
- A 5.5 kilometre natural gas pipeline
- Related infrastructure.
Construction of the facility will take three years. It will be operational in mid-2015.
The Project comprises three components:
- A gas pipeline will join the gas plant to the Hexham receiving station
- A gas plant including a refrigeration plant to liquefy natural gas, an LNG storage tank, and a vaporisation system to convert the stored LNG back to natural gas for delivery into the pipeline. This will include an access road and utility corridor to allow utilities access from Old Punt Road
- Hexham receiving station to transfer the natural gas to and from the Jemena distribution network.
- The Newcastle Gas Storage Facility will also be supplied with natural gas from the future gas production at AGL’s Gloucester Gas Project. AGL is currently applying for a modification to the Part 3A approval of the Gloucester Gas Project to relocate the pipeline end from Hexham to within AGL’s Newcastle Gas Storage Facility.
AGL proposes to truck wastewater from the Project site to an appropriate treatment facility.
The HDD length is anticipated to be approximately 600 metres.
Of the approximate 20 ha of vegetation to be cleared, up to 15 Earps gums will need to be removed. These gums were planted following sand mining activities between 1970s and the 1990s. AGL is working closely with the Hunter Botanic Gardens to develop an offset strategy that ensures longer term minimal impact can be achieved. One of these initiatives is to replant seeds of these gums.
A: Stormwater from the active plant areas of the site will be captured and stored in an onsite holding pond prior to water quality testing, and then pumped via a dedicated stormwater pipeline along the access road to the Port Stephens Council stormwater system at Old Punt Road.
A: Surface water in potentially contaminated areas will be collected in sumps. The quality of water in the sumps will be checked for contamination. If contaminated, it will be pumped to trucks and removed from the site. If uncontaminated, it will be manually released to the holding pond and discharged to stormwater.
AGL has consulted extensively with relevant State and local government agencies, as well as local residents, landowners and local businesses. AGL will continue to liaise with stakeholders and the local community throughout construction completion and operations.
The Project will provide a reserve of natural gas which will play a critical role in ensuring the security of supply during periods of peak energy demand or during periods of supply disruption. It will also support the development of gas-fired power generation which can be used to back up renewable energy supplies such as wind power. This is consistent with the New South Wales Government's future energy planning needs. The Project will help prevent supply constraints, particularly on cold winter days, with its capacity to store the equivalent of about two weeks' gas for the greater Newcastle region.
The Tomago industrial area is appropriately zoned for this type of development and is close to a major demand centre. The site is adjacent to the Tomago aluminium smelter, a significant industrial operation with high standards of safety consistent with those of AGL. The site is large enough to provide the buffer zone as required by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
This proposed site was offered to AGL by Tomago Aluminum Company, and is suitable both environmentally and operationally.
The facility will not be visible to the public as it is set back more than 1km from the closest public road. The closest neighbours, the Botanic Gardens, some 500 metres from the site will not be visible to the site because of the bushland buffer zone.
A: We have identified the pipeline corridor (the emergency road) as a secondary means of escape from the plant site, should there be an incident that prevents escape along the access road.
The Project is on the boundary of two Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALC), Awabakal LALC (south of the Hunter River) and Worimi LALC (north of the Hunter). The Hexham portion of the project is predominantly associated with the Awabakal clan subgroups, the Pambulong and the Ash Island Clan. There is potential for the Project related activities to disturb Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. Management procedures will be developed in consultation with the appropriate LALCs to ensure that in the event that any Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, features or artefacts are unearthed during construction, there will be a process to ensure they are protected.
A: Due to the distance of the primary project area (about 1km) from the main Tomago town, any associated visual, traffic and noise impacts should be minimal during construction. Ongoing plant operation will have little impact on the local community. The pipeline along Old Punt Road will be installed below ground so local impacts will be minimal.
The anticipated road tanker traffic is three trucks per day and a transport hazard study will be undertaken to assess any risks associated with this.
The buffer zone is within the property boundary.
Up to approximately 20 ha of vegetation will be removed within the primary Project area. An extensive range of environmental safeguards, mitigation measures and monitoring and management programs will be implemented to avoid or minimise impacts. Offset land will be provided and a strategy developed in consultation with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I). AGL will also closely consult with local stakeholders who have community expertise in restoration and habitat protection (including the Hunter Botanic Gardens at Tomago) to develop long term sustainable community partnership programs.
No. We are building a gas storage facility. It is not a coal seam gas (CSG) project. The only drilling being undertaken is for geotechnical and groundwater monitoring purposes.