Flotilla of protesters may block seismic tests

4th February 2020

The mining company delayed the start of its survey of four square kilometres of the lake floor by a week on Friday after an avalanche of community distress.

The tests, which Centennial says are a low impact underwater pulse generated by an electric spark - not a seismic air-gun - were due to begin yesterday.

They are being carried out to provide an "interpretation of geological structures in future areas" of the Myuna Colliery, which extends under the lake.

Environmental group Save Our Coast, fishers and state MP Greg Piper all called for the tests to be halted, raising concerns about the potential impacts on marine life.

A meeting between Centennial and the parties was held on Friday, but attendees Gary Blaschke and Jason Nunn said a number of questions remained unanswered.

Mr Blaschke organised a community meeting at Cams Wharf on Sunday afternoon to update concerned locals.

He said about 60 people turned up and a number of potential options were discussed about how to proceed with public objections to the testing, including forming a vessel blockade in the testing area between Wangi Wangi Point, Swansea, Pulbah Island and Murrays Beach.

"The community need to get some answers or they're going to rebel," he said.

"Let's make a flotilla of water vehicles and we'll go in front of the boats pulling the seismic testing [equipment].

"That is one of the alternatives we're looking at."

Fisherman Jason Nunn said a blockade was "certainly" an option, but he hoped it wouldn't come to that.

"Maybe that's what we've got to do to try to get some more information," he said.

"Not enough is known about what they're going to do. I would hope that we can get the answers or they can delay it a little bit more."

Mr Nunn said those concerned about the survey were simply seeking transparency after a "total lack of community consultation".

He called for a demo of the tests beforehand to prove the process wasn't damaging to the lake's marine life.

"It sounds so destructive," he said. "They've got to prove otherwise that we have nothing to be concerned about."

A Centennial Coal spokeswoman said a Q&A would be placed on the company's website today, along with a "comprehensive" fact sheet later this week.

"These documents will explain the technology being deployed is low impact, regularly used by a range of organisations, including locally, and presents no material harm to the marine environment," she said.

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