Monday, January 24, 2011

A Carbon Storage Leak? Not So Fast, Experts Caution

Has the world’s largest carbon-capture project sprung a leak? That was the explosive charge leveled this month by Jane and Cameron Kerr, a Canadian couple who live near the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, where nearly 16 million metric tons of compressed carbon dioxide have been pumped into a reservoir deep underground for permanent storage since 2000. At a news conference, the couple unveiled a report by a geological consulting firm that appeared to conclusively link elevated levels of carbon dioxide on their property to gas from the reservoir. Addressing the Canadian news media, they described a pond on their property “fizzing like soda pop,” mysterious late-night explosions and the discovery of dead animals that appeared to be asphyxiated. They declared that they had abandoned the property out of fear for their health. Sally Benson, a geologist at Stanford University, described the report, by Paul Lafleur, president of Petro-Find Geochem, a Saskatoon-based geological consulting firm, as far from comprehensive and said that other causes unconnected to the Weyburn project could be the source of the Kerrs’ problems. Susan D. Hovorka, a geologist at the University of Texas at Austin, went further, saying that Mr. Fleur’s declarations that a firm link had been found between carbon dioxide on the Kerrs’ property and the storage project were “misleading.”...more

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