Weyburn carbon capture and storage facility springs a leak
Canadian Press is reporting that gas is bubbling and fizzing out of the grown in Weyburn, Saskatchewan where the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility is located. CCS had been hailed by some as the panacea to climate change in that the technology is able to capture carbon dioxide and inject it underground rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.
Massive investments are being made in Alberta’s tar sands on CCS technology and any hope of reducing emissions is riding on the success of CCS. The federal government has even joined forces with the Alberta government to kick-start a plan for a $1.5 billion pipeline that would ship unwanted CO2 from utilities and oil sands production to old natural gas fields, and the Stelmach government in Alberta set aside $2 billion in the summer of 2008 for carbon capture and other mitigation projects.
But now, a Saskatchewan farm couple whose land lies over the Weyburn facility says greenhouse gases seeping from the soil are killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken soda pop.
Skeptics of CCS have long-maintained that the technology is unproven and there is no way to guarantee that the carbon dioxide won’t leak at some point in the future thereby presenting serious health risks and undoing any emissions reductions that may have been realized. It’s expensive, unproven, and according to researchers at Duke University, there’s the troubling possibility that captured carbon could leak into groundwater aquifers, potentially rendering water undrinkable.
This latest bad news for proponents of CCS adds to doubts about the technology’s effectiveness, particularly in the tar sands. A government report from 2008 stated that that just a small percentage of the carbon dioxide released in mining the sands and producing fuel from them can be captured.