Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Blow to Carbon Capture Boondoggle

The claim that polluters could minimize or reduce their carbon footprint through carbon capture and storage has always been a laughable 'green' fig leaf to anybody who actually crunches the numbers.  Now its not even that.
A Saskatchewan farm couple whose land lies over the world's largest carbon capture and storage project says greenhouse gases that were supposed to have been injected permanently underground are leaking out, killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken-up soda pop.

Cameron and Jane Kerr, who own nine quarter-sections of land above the Weyburn oilfield in eastern Saskatchewan, released a consultant's report Tuesday that claims to link high concentrations of carbon dioxide in their soil to the 8,000 tonnes of the gas injected underground every day by energy giant Cenovus in its attempt to enhance oil recovery and fight climate change.

"We knew, obviously, there was something wrong," said Jane Kerr.

Cameron Kerr, 64, said he has farmed in the area all his life and never had any problems until 2003, when he agreed to dig a gravel quarry.

That gravel was for a road to a plant owned by EnCana — now Cenovus — which had begun three years earlier to inject massive amounts of carbon dioxide underground to force more oil out of the aging field.

Cenovus has injected more than 13 million tonnes of the gas underground. The project has become a global hotspot for research into carbon capture and storage, a technology that many consider one of the best hopes for keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

By 2005, Cameron Kerr had begun noticing problems in a pair of ponds which had formed at the bottom of the quarry. They developed algae blooms, clots of foam and several colours of scum — red, yellow and silver-blue. Sometimes, the ponds bubbled. Small animals — cats, rabbits, goats — were regularly found dead a few metres away.

Then there were the explosions.

"At night we could hear this sort of bang like a cannon going off," said Jane Kerr, 58. "We'd go out and check the gravel pit and, in the walls, it (had) blown a hole in the side and there would be all this foaming coming out of this hole."

"Just like you shook up a bottle of Coke and had your finger over it and let it spray," added her husband.

The water, said Jane Kerr, came out of the ground carbonated.

"It would fizz and foam."

Alarmed, the couple left their farm and moved to Regina.

"It was getting too dangerous to live there," Cameron Kerr said.

In 2006, Cameron Kerr said, the province's New Democrat government agreed to conduct a year-long study to find out what was going on. That government fell to the Saskatchewan Party in the subsequent election and the year-long study was never done.
Carbon Capture has never been a realistic option. the numbers make it clear that even if it worked the expense to make any kind of real reduction in CO2 levels meant it was never a viable option.  It's purely about stalling on real action on climate change with the pretense of a solution that will allow companies to avoid making the real painful and difficult changes necessary.  Now we know it doesn't even do the limited job its theoretically supposed to.

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