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CO2 storage is super safe say scientists

By Colin Ricketts - 13 Sep 2011 17:1:1 GMT
CO2 storage is super safe say scientists

A team of scientists says that storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground is so safe that concerned residents near storage facilities are more likely to win a 100 million to one lottery than die from the effects of the gas.

Carbon capture and storage is one of weapons in the fight against climate change and is typically associated with power generation plants. CO2 gas is collected before it goes into the atmosphere - where it can contribute to global warming - converted into a liquid and stored underground in tiny holes in the rock. Eventually, the CO2 will dissolve harmlessly into the underground water.

A team of researchers from Edinburgh University tested the risks of storage of the gas by studying sites in Italy where underground volcanic activity produces CO2 which naturally seeps up into the atmosphere.

The team, Professor Stuart Haszeldine from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, publish their results in the new issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy for Sciences (PNAS).

From historical records they calculated the risk of death from underground CO2 as about one in 100 million and believe that with the planning and engineering expertise involved in carbon capture and storage, the risk from storage facilities should be much less than that from natural gas releases.

One of the team, Jennifer Roberts, said: "These Italian CO2 seeps are natural, are often neither sign-posted nor fenced off, and yet there have been remarkably few accidents."

Professor Haszeldine added: "Our findings show that storing CO2 underground is safe and should allay any concerns that the technology poses a significant threat to health."

Top Image Credit: CO2 © drizzd