Carbon Not-So-Captured


One proposed strategy for reducing the effects of carbon emissions is to try to capture the carbon as it is emitted and to bury it underground. But the technology is controversial. And a story from Saskatchewan is adding support to opponents of the technology. A farm couple whose land sits atop a carbon capture site commissioned an independent report into their land quality, and say that it appears to indicate that the so-called “captured” carbon has actually leaked into their land.

Cameron Kerr, 64, and his wife, Jane, first started noticing problems around 2005. Two ponds on their land, which had never shown such symptoms before, suddenly was sprouting algae blooms and red, yellow, and silver-blue scum. They found dead cats, rabbits, and goats littering the sides of the pond. They started hearing explosions in the night, and would run out to see foam shooting out, “just like you shook up a bottle of Coke,” Cameron Kerr recently told Canadian news site iPolitics.

The Canadian energy giant Cenovus injects thousands of tons of CO2 each day into the ground beneath the Kerrs’ farm. As Green Economy Post points out, the site is “considered a global test case for carbon capture and sequestration.” From the Kerrs’ point of view, the test has failed. They hired a consultant, Paul Lafleur of Petro-Find Geochm, who detected CO2 concentrations well in excess of normal; Lafleur also examined the mix of carbon isotopes to link the CO2 found in the soil to the CO2 Cenovus has been “capturing.”

The findings, if true, square with a recent Duke study that suggested that captured carbon could leak, rendering water undrinkable. As Duke’s Green Grok blog put it, “the future of ‘clean’ coal is murky.”

[Image: Flickr user joshme17]DZ