A 54km-long ocean outfall pipeline, crucial to the operation of Victoria’s coal-fired power stations, would be damaged by the A$500m ($257m) Australia/Tasmania Basslink project, a water authority claimed yesterday.
Gippsland Water told the joint advisory panel of the Victorian, Tasmanian and Federal Governments on Basslink that the electromagnetic effects of the project would corrode its A$60m saline waste outfall pipeline, which takes salt water produced by Latrobe Valley power stations to the ocean.
Gippsland Water’s statement comes amid increasing criticism of the project, with a prominent gas company and a local council also concerned about corrosion and environmental and economic effects.
The Basslink project is designed to connect Tasmania to the national electricity market and help secure power supplies in Victoria and Tasmania in periods of peak demand.
Gippsland Water chief executive John Mitchell said the electromagnetic effects of the undersea cable would corrode and cause voltages to occur in the pipeline, posing a risk to workers.
He said his company had no confidence that Basslink builder National Grid had the capacity to improve the situation.
Gas company Duke Energy told the panel that corrosion caused by the cable would damage its pipelines and other infrastructure in the area.
Duke has claimed that “stray currents” from the Basslink cable would weaken one of their pipelines to such an extent that its life span would be reduced by 25 years.
Esso, which has A$12bn worth of steel infrastructure in Bass Strait, and GPU Gas Net will express similar claims to Duke and Gippsland Water at panel hearings today.
A Basslink spokesman said yesterday the corrosion issue was being tackled and that an acceptable solution would be found.
The gas and water companies have asked National Grid to build a bipolar cable instead of its proposed monopolar cable, claiming the bipolar option would solve the corrosion problem because the current could return without going via the ocean or seabed.
But National Grid has said building a bipolar cable would cost an extra A$100m, making its project unviable.
Latrobe City Council told the panel it had called on the Victorian Government to hold an independent inquiry into all aspects of the Basslink proposal, which it said provided no benefits to the state.
Victorian National Party leader Peter Ryan said while he supported the principle of the project, he was opposed to the proposed use of up to 300 45-metre pylons.
The panel hearings on Basslink will continue until later this month.