Gladstone explosion demonstrates danger of gas to climate, communities

The explosion in a gas line near Gladstone, currently causing chaos for local industry, is another reminder of the unreliability and danger of gas as an energy source, according to Queensland's peak environment body.

The underground gas leak and explosion near Bauhinia in Central Queensland has affected key industries in Gladstone and demonstrates the need to improve monitoring of our existing infrastructure and transition safely to new renewable energy sources.

Queensland Conservation Council energy analyst Clare Silcock said

This incident shows that gas is inherently dangerous for our climate and communities, and we need to prioritise the transition to safe, reliable renewable energy.

A large part of our industrial energy in Queensland is met by compressing an extremely explosive hydrocarbon into pressurised pipes which run across huge tracts of Queensland before being burnt to create heat.

We now have a huge amount of infrastructure built around a primitive method of creating energy. It's become so normalised that we don’t often think about the massive risks but this incident has brought them to the surface.

While we wait for more details on the leak which caused the explosion, leaking gas from pipelines all across Queensland, called fugitive emissions, is a significant source of our carbon emissions.

We need better monitoring of pipeline leaks and real time detection to avoid these leaks and reduce risks of explosions.

However, no gas system will be zero risk and certainly will never be zero carbon.

We can build zero carbon energy systems with renewable energy backed by storage. Rio Tinto is investing in renewable projects now.

We need strict regulation to make sure these are built well, and safely for nature and communities. We can learn a lot from the regulations which have enabled us to light a highly flammable gas inside our homes and businesses, but we can't keep relying on this old technology.

Banner: Queensland Gas Pipeline in central Queensland.
attribution Image supplied by QGC Australia