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CO2 + water doesn’t make soda pop

I hate to be the one to say “I told you so“. Okay, no I don’t, but the Bugle has covered numerous problems related to the pie-in-the-sky process of Carbon Storage and Sequestration (CSS). No large scale demonstration of this technology exists. It’s extremely expensive in both money and energy used and it could well be deadly.

A new study funded by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Duke University Center on Global Change now finds that the process may not be quite as safe as energy companies would have us believe.
Leaking Underground CO2 Storage Could Contaminate Drinking Water, Study Finds

Leaks from carbon dioxide injected deep underground to help fight climate change could bubble up into drinking water aquifers near the surface, driving up levels of contaminants in the water tenfold or more in some places, according to a study by Duke University scientists.

In a study of geology from several sites around the country actually being considered for geologic sequestration of CO2, the Duke scientists found, “After a year’s exposure to the CO2, analysis of the samples showed that “there are a number of potential sites where CO2 leaks drive contaminants up tenfold or more, in some cases to levels above the maximum contaminant loads set by the EPA for potable water,”. They also were able to identify four markers that science can use to identify warnings of the potential for CO2 leaks from a storage formation.

Even with the potential to address some of the problem sites and causes of leaks, is this really a technology that we want to pursue? It takes  one-third of the energy produced by a power plant to transport and pump the CO2 thousands of feet down in the earth into a storage reservoir. That means that for every three dirty coal-fired power plants that we make cleaner using CSS, we have to build another dirty plant that may or may not use CSS just to provide energy for the storage. Power companies have found that people are not real thrilled about living over a reservoir of potentially deadly gas that has to remain in place forever, so that rules out a lot of potential sites. Most of the current CSS testing is being used to pump CO2 into depleted oil fields to get out that last little bit of highly polluting oil, trading one pollutant for another. We are spending billions to study this technology, but every time there is a new study it finds new problems or underlines existing ones.


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