Danish scientist says that CCS is as risky and hard to manage as the storage of nuclear waste

This entry was posted by Wednesday, 30 June, 2010
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Given that there’s much too much excess carbon to sweep under the rug, many have turned to the nearest thing: sequestering it in deep-sea or underground storage facilities. The European Union plans to invest billions of Euros in carbon sequestration over the next ten years.

But according to Gary Shaffer, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, and leader of the Danish Center for Earth System Science, calculations show that undersea storage of CO2 would cause serious problems for marine life – and in any case, he says, the CO2 would quickly find its way back into the atmosphere.

“CO2 sequestration has many potential advantages over other forms of climate geo-engineering,” says Shaffer. “However, one should not underestimate short and long-term problems with leakage from reservoirs. Carbon in light form will seek its way out of the ground or seabed. The present situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a poignant reminder of that.”

Shaffer made long model projections for a number of sequestration/leakage scenarios. His results show that leakage of the stored CO2 could bring about serious warming of the atmosphere, large sea level rises, oxygen depletion, acidification, and high CO2 concentrations in the ocean. Underground storage could be effective, Schaffer says, but only if a CO2 leakage of one percent or less per thousand years can be obtained. Managing the leakage could be a burden for future society comparable to the long term management of nuclear waste, he says.

“The dangers of carbon sequestration are real, and the development of this technique should not be used as an argument for continued high fossil fuel emissions,” warns Shaffer. “On the contrary, we should limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for CCS and thus reduce unwanted burden over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2.”


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