Residents demand accountability for seismic blasting proposal

July 9, 2024 BY

L-R: Queenscliff resident John Murray, OCEAN campaign manager Mitch Pope and local resident Sandy Fairthorne. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

COASTAL residents have united to send a message to global data company TGS after it rejected multiple requests to hold community consultation sessions on the Surf Coast about their planned Otway Basin seismic blasting project.

Last month, this masthead reported that TGS rejected calls to hold consultation sessions on the Surf Coast, citing safety concerns.


Surf Coast residents unite in protest in Torquay, holding a “Too dangerous to talk to” sign to highlight the absurdity of TGS’s rationale for refusing to hold community consultation sessions on the Surf Coast for their planned Otway Basin seismic blasting project. Photo: ANGUS SMITH


Otway Coastal Environment Action Network (OCEAN) campaign manager Mitch Pope said a group of residents gathered to highlight the absurdity of the situation.

“Torquay is a kind, welcoming, and respectful community,” Mr Pope said.

“The project TGS is proposing is the largest seismic blasting project ever proposed on earth.”

“If TGS expects they can just breeze through the consultation process by ticking a box, they are wrong.”

Seismic surveying, also known as seismic blasting, is a precursor to offshore oil and gas drilling.

It involves ships towing setups of airguns and sound receivers through the water.

These devices release intense blasts into the ocean to map the ocean floor.

The blasts reach a rating of 250 decibels, which is higher than that of atomic bombs.

Calls for proper consultation to help the community understand the project are growing louder.

A recent community survey found 92 per cent of respondents were very concerned about the impacts of seismic blasting in the Otway Basin, while 6 per cent were somewhat concerned.


Member for Corangamite, Libby Coker, attended a community protest in Torquay in March this year against seismic blasting in the Otway Basin. Photo: ANGUS SMITH


Corangamite Labor federal member Libby Coker has called for a halt until a proper review has taken place, while Wannon Liberal federal member Dan Tehan has also questioned the size and scope of the project.

Both MPs say consultation should be conducted on the Surf Coast.

“I think it shows that TGS has not done a proper job in following through with proper processes considering we have both a Labor and Liberal MP saying the same thing,” Mr Pope said.


Dan Tehan holds regular listening posts throughout Wannon to better understand the issues important to people across his sprawling electorate. Photo: ANGUS SMITH


Local resident Sandy Fairthorne said residents were beginning to realise what was going on and they weren’t happy.

“That’s why it has become a political issue, because locals care.

“It’s our precious ocean and they have been mucking around with it without our knowledge and getting away with it for far too long.”

“The idea that Surf Coast is too dangerous for a multinational to visit is a joke. If it wasn’t such a serious issue it would be hilarious,” she said.

Queenscliff resident John Murray said the companies needed to face up to the community.

“They are not in any physical danger and the community needs to know what their proposal is.

“It’s all smoke and mirrors. They don’t want to be questioned about the project.”

TGS did not respond to requests for an interview prior to publication.


Originally published: July 9 at 4.00 am. Updated: July 9 at 9.20 am.

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