A couple of weeks ago over at Anthony Watts’ fine site there appeared a cautionary post by Eric Worrall regarding carbon sequestration. Be sure to read his full and very interesting piece – 1 million tons of pressurised CO2 stored beneath Decatur, Illinois.
Briefly, Mr. Worrall shared his concern for the residents of Decatur should the stored CO2 leak out. He related his concern to the 1986 CO2 leak in Africa which killed some 2,500 people living within in the 15 mile, thankfully sparsely populated, radius with just 100,000 – 300,000 tons of CO2 reaching the surface.
So today, a friend sends me this link – MIT study challenges feasibility of carbon capture and storage.
The MIT study confirms that “carbon sequestration promises to address greenhouse-gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface, where it would permanently solidify into rock.” The MIT researchers conducting the recent study are concerned that “as carbon dioxide works its way underground, only a small fraction of the gas turns to rock. The remainder of the gas stays in a more tenuous form.” Further, “if it stays in its gaseous or liquid phase, it remains mobile and it can possibly return back to the atmosphere.”
The “back to the atmosphere” circumstance the MIT folks mention sounded harmless enough to my untrained ear, until I refered back to Mr. Worrall’s WUWT article which notes that the African “CO2 release was so deadly, because CO2 is heavier than air – when the huge CO2 cloud boiled out of lake Nyos, it hugged the ground, displacing all breathable air to an elevation 10s of ft above ground level, suffocating almost everyone in its path. Its not just people and animals which would be affected – car engines would also stall, as the blanket of CO2 choked off the supply of oxygen.”
Mr. Worrall ends with this: “If carbon sequestration becomes commonplace, sooner or later someone will get greedy and careless, and will be careless in their choice of geological reservoir, and / or will overload their geological reservoir to boost their bottom line. And that carelessness will, in my opinion, almost inevitably lead to a catastrophic loss of life.”
And I don’t know about you folks, but that scenario worries me a lot more than a couple of degree rise in temperature over the next 100 years or so. I sure hope someone’s thought this whole thing through.