Gas leak closes down Sydney Road shops in Coburg: we need transition off gas

November 15, 2020 at 1:18 pm 1 comment

Coburg Gas leak

A large gas leak in Coburg has closed down Sydney Road between Bell street and Harding street, threatening the strip shopping area including Victoria Street Mall.

The hazardous gas leak at 424 Sydney Rd, Coburg, has prompted an emergency warning at 12.20pm on Sunday 15 November. Gas fumes spread towards Victoria St Mall. All Gas services in the area have been impacted.

Let’s get this straight: Gas is a fossil fuel. Gas leaks can be dangerous (explosive potential). Breathing Gas can affect our health. There are fugitive emissions leaks throughout the distribution system.

We need to transition residential and business customers off gas both for short term safety and health, and long term climate safety. There are good alternatives to gas for heating, cooking and most industrial uses.

Emergency situation

Current road closures include Sydney Rd between Bell St and Harding St, and all streets between Hudson St and Rodda St. An emergency warning has been issued:

    Anyone located between Bell St, Rodda St, Harding St and Hudson St should move inside immediately. Do not enter the area – it is extremely dangerous.

    What you should do:

  • Bring your pets inside.
  • If you are located within the warning area, you should immediately move inside your home or the nearest building.
  • People who shelter indoors are much safer than those people who remain outside.
  • Close all windows and doors and lock them to create a better seal. The quicker you can close doors and windows the better protected you will be.
  • Turn off heating and cooling systems.
  • Close all vents and fireplace flues.

If you are travelling:

  • If you are away from home, do not return.
  • If you are currently driving you should shut your windows. Turn off your air conditioning and close the vents. Immediately leave the area.One Gas leak closes down Coburg

Impacts in your area:

  • The following roads are closed: Sydney Rd between Bell St and Harding St, as well as all streets between Hudson St and Rodda St.
  • You may smell gas.
  • Gas services have been impacted.

This messages was issued by Fire Rescue Victoria.


The emergency warning was updated at 4:14 PM to say:

“The hazardous gas leak on 242 Sydney Road in Coburg is now safe. This All Clear replaces the Emergency Warning issued at 12.20pm today. People located within the area are now able to resume normal activities.

What you should do: Open windows and doors to ventilate your home or business. Ventilating your home, business or workplace flushes out any hazardous vapours that have entered the building.”


The problem of Gas and lack of transition program by Victorian Government

Earlier this week, on Tuesday 10 November, Brunswick Greens MP Tim Read raised the question with the Minister for Climate and Energy what the state government was doing to get Victorian households and industry off gas. While Lily D’Ambrosio is doing a credible job in increasing renewables and energy storage, gas appears to be an area of failure. She initially refused to answer the simple question put to her on transitioning off gas.

Even after a supplementary question and point of order the Minister failed to directly respond to the question. Read the transcript below. Do you think the Minister answered the question?

There are many Moreland citizens, and citizens across the state concerned that the Victorian State Government is failing to develop any transition plans for residential and business customers off gas.

Dr READ (Brunswick) (12:22): My question is for the minister for climate and energy. Australia is looking increasingly isolated in the world because of our ongoing enthusiasm for fossil fuels, such as the federal government’s proposed gas-led recovery, and Victoria is opening up for gas exploration and the import of fracked gas through Western Port. In contrast, some European countries are disconnecting homes from gas and the ACT is building gas-free suburbs. Does this government have a plan to actually get Victorian households and industry off gas?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (12:22): I thank the member for Brunswick for his question, and I would agree with the member for Brunswick that Australia as a country, led by our national government, has absolutely fallen behind in terms of decarbonising our energy system.

That is not the case for Victoria. We are absolutely leading this country, and we are making news worldwide in our ambition and our plans and our tangible solutions for decarbonising our economy. What is very clear from our government is our ambition is led by real, concrete action: the biggest renewable energy stream of jobs coming online—the biggest in terms of the actual number of construction jobs of all states right across the country. And there will certainly be more to say because we know that decarbonising our energy system, our broader economy, needs a lot of effort across a whole variety of opportunities that exist within our economy. It does take a government that is prepared to back the science, to be led by the science and to drive action at a state level, and that is exactly what our government will do. We will certainly have more to say on all of these fronts.

Dr READ (Brunswick) (12:24): The question was about gas. The minister did not actually mention gas. I would really appreciate it if the minister could directly address the question, which is: is there a plan for Victorian households and industry to get off gas, or does this government still cling on to gas as a transition fuel?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (12:24): I do thank the member for the supplementary question. When you develop a plan to transition away from a carbonised system, the plan has to be quite comprehensive, it has to be broad and it needs many elements to the solutions. No-one should be in any doubt, in this house or right across our state, that our plans for decarbonising our energy system and our economy to meet our net zero carbon emissions target for 2050 will include a whole variety of initiatives that will help to decarbonise the entire energy system.

Dr Read: On a point of order, Speaker, the question was very simple, and on relevance I really hope you can encourage the minister to refer to gas.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister is being relevant to the question.

Ms D’AMBROSIO: Thank you, Speaker. Just lastly, obviously gas comes in many forms. There is green hydrogen. There you go—I have mentioned the word, I am not embarrassed to say that. But the fact is you need a proper transition arrangement in place backed up with a strong commitment from the government in terms of investment, and we will have plenty to say on all of these fronts very, very soon.


Recently Dr Tim Read also interviewed energy expert Tim Forcey, with 35 years experience in the oil, gas and electricity industries in Australia and abroad.

They discussed why governments are still giving public money to the fossil fuel industry and the biggest threats to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 despite ready alternatives. There was a focus on gas.

Tim Forcey established in 2015 the My efficient Electric Home Facebook Group, with over 21,500 members.

Watch the interview:


Support the ‘Protect Our Future, Not Gas’

National Day of Action 28th November 2020:
When: Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 7 AM UTC+11 – 8:30 PM UTC+11
Where: Online Event
Public: Hosted by Fridays 4 Future Online

The Narrabri Gas Project has just been approved on the beautiful land of the Gomeroi people, in NSW. A food producing region and water catchment for the Great Artesian Basin.

The Federal government wants a COVID gas-led recovery providing millions of dollars to the gas industry toward infrastructure including pipelines.

They’re proposing to develop gas basins on the land of the Alawa people of Minyerri, in Beetaloo Basin in the NT, and North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland.

They have promoted taxpayers paying millions for a gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley and a gas trading hub at Wallumbilla in Queensland.

Natural gas is not a clean transitional energy. It is a dangerous polluting fossil fuel – predominantly made of methane which has a global warming potential up to 84-86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The fossil fuel Industry predicted the global warming we are now seeing, as a consequence of fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, along with the substantial climatic impacts that would occur after a 1°C temperature rise.

The United Nations (IPCC) has said that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C warming ‘through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes’. We have already endured unprecedented bushfires and floods, heat, drought, and multiple coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef.

Countries such as Australia are meant to lead the way dealing with the climate crisis under the Paris Agreement.

We want a renewable and green jobs-led recovery, not a gas-led one.

Join the National Day of Action on 28 Nov 2020 with a COVID safe action that you can photograph or video to send to join the Online Virtual Rally.

Over sixty community groups are co-hosting/supporting the National Day of Action so far.

National Day of Action demands:
1. Respect and support any First Nations community opposition to coal seam gas mining and fracking.
2. Stop using public funds for gas or other fossil fuel projects.
3. Support 100% renewables by 2030
4. Support Solar Schools
5. Support a renewables Million Jobs Plan

Background References:

Entry filed under: gas transition, news, Victorian Government. Tags: , , , , , , .

Green New Deal for Victoria passes in Upper House motion Climate Emergency toolkit for Councils launched

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Eduard Modric  |  November 18, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    My understanding is that the gas leak was a rupture natural gas main. Just a few scientific points from someone that analyses natural gas for a living. Natural gas as supplied from a depot such as Longford or similar is typically greater than 95% methane, with small traces of permanent gases, some ethane and propane, plus added odourants (e.g. tert-butyl thiol) at the parts-per-billion level.

    Unless you are doing it continuously in a non-ventilated space, the health effects from inhaling natural gas are negligible.

    It’s absolutely bizarre the contradiction in safety advice offered – first residents are advised to seal themselves indoors (definitely the wrong thing to do, as any ingress of gas will just build up) but then later (and correctly) asked to “open windows and doors to ventilate your home or business.”

    The danger of natural gas arises from its flammability and potential as an asphyxiant. The lowest boiling hydrocarbons (e.g. methane, ethane, propane) are not particularly toxic and are rapidly diluted in air. The risk is akin to breathing helium from a balloon or carbon dioxide from a paper bag.

    While the infrared absorptivity of methane (and thus its potential as a greenhouse gas) is significantly greater than carbon dioxide, it’s important to remember that its main purpose is to be *burnt*. Methane isn’t supposed to be freely released to the environment. Losses through the reticulation are relatively minimal especially for buried and maintained pipelines and the soil permeability around many of the coal seams is not sufficient to allow significant fugitive loss where properly managed.


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