Are carbon dioxide leaks killing animals in Saskatchewan?

Illustration for article titled Are carbon dioxide leaks killing animals in Saskatchewan?

Storage of carbon dioxide was supposed to be a boon to the environment in Canada. But are reports of dead animals and bubbling ponds signs that it's a danger?


Since carbon dioxide causes a lot of trouble when it's zooming around the atmosphere, heating everything up and suffocating all the animals, measures had to be taken to reduce it. That meant a reduction in energy use, which is inconvenient, and a great expansion in the part of the planet covered in plants, which means a lot of dirt on the ground. It also means taking the carbon dioxide and sticking it underground, where it can't catch and entrap stray sunbeams. The plan is called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), possibly because Operation Sweep Under the Rug makes an awkward acronym.

CCS facilities are created in old oil fields, where carbon dioxide gas is used to force more oil to the surface. The oil is forced to the surface and the carbon dioxide stays underground. At least, that's how it should work. But in Saskatchewan, Canada, a couple near a CCS facility reported dead animals and suspiciously bubbling water that they believed was evidence of carbon dioxide leaking from under the ground.

The couple hired a firm called Petro-Find to prove that their suspicions were justified. Petro-Find discovered an unusually high concentration of carbon dioxide in one area of the couple's property, and an isotopic kind of carbon dioxide that is consistent with the underground gas. The International Energy Agency took samples and stated that the CO2 found was consistent with naturally occuring gas given off by soil-dwelling creatures, and all the values were within normal range.

At this time, neither side is backing down, for understandable reasons. CCS presents a way to get oil while decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which is highly desirable. But no one wants a field full of smothering gas in their backyard.

Via Scientific American.


Dr Emilio Lizardo

have you ever been to Saskatoon? I think the animals may be dying of boredom.

And "Operation Sweep CO2 Under the Rug" would make a great acronym.