Saturday, June 20, 2009

Groundwater, Saline Aquifers, and Proposed CCS Project s

Darke County, Ohio is the proposed site of one of the large-scale Carbon Capture and Storage projects. (CCS - aka CO2 Sequestration) Greenville, OH has been selected as the site for the MRCSP's Phase III "Demonstration Project" in which they plan to bury 1 Millon Tons of CO2 in the Supercritical Form known as Supercritical CO2.

This area is a strong agricultural area and it sits on top of a sole source aquifer

Technology has advanced rapidly, whoever thought we'd have this technology in our lifetime?

I question why anyone would want to inject supercritical CO2 into our saline aquifer and destroy the possibility of it being used in the future. What potential mess are we leaving for future generations to clean up?

The quotes below are from the web site -

Assessing the impacts of future demand for saline groundwater on commercial deployment of CCS in the United States
Casie L Davidsona*, James J Dooleyb, Robert T Dahowskia
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 902 Battelle Avenue, Richland, Washington 99354, USA
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 8400 Baltimore Avenue, Ste 201, College Park, MD 20740, USA

This is a very important article - it addresses the potential impact that CCS might have on the future demand for groundwater within the United States especially as these projects increase in number. A number of areas of the U.S. are very dependent upon their groundwater - many are over-utilized or depleted or moving towards depletion as demand grows.

This geological formation in the western Ohio area is known as the Mount Simon Sandstone and it is this same saline aquifer that is considered to be an ideal formation for CO2 waste pumped into the earth as the final deposit for CO2 sequestration projects. It is deposited in the geological formation forever, not stored to be retrieved at a later date.

Water is our most precious resource.

The bold areas in red are excerpts from the article referenced below. They have been enhanced in red for those who skim articles. The excerpts are from random paragraphs and may or may not be in order... please read the entire article.

Please be sure to read the entire article

"The need to meet future water demands may lead some parts of the nation to consider supplementing existing supplies with lower quality groundwater resources, including brackish waters that are currently not considered sources of drinking water but which could provide supplemental water via desalination. In some areas, these same deep saline-filled geologic formations also represent possible candidate carbon dioxide (CO2) storage reservoirs. The analysis presented here suggests that future constraints on CCS deployment – due to potential needs to supplement conventional water supplies by desalinating deeper and more brackish waters – are likely to be necessary only in limited regions across the country, particularly in areas that are already experiencing water stress."

(Please see map of Ohio on the above web site)

"As Figure 1 illustrates, some areas of the U.S. use very little groundwater to supply their populations with drinking water. In particular, Appalachia, the Northeast and certain areas in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest rely predominantly on surface waters to meet their public supply needs. In other areas, however – particularly the Southwest, Gulf Coast and Florida, and certain other parts of the Midwest – groundwater provides a large fraction of the total public water supply, well over 50 percent in many areas. It is also worth noting that the use of groundwater to supply public drinking water appears to be on the rise. In 1985, 379 counties in the U.S. supplied more than 80 percent of their population with groundwater; in 1995 there were 436, a 15 percent increase [9]."
"3.5. Ohio River Valley Aquifers
Because the most promising CO2 storage resource in the Ohio River Valley does not underlie a major drinking water aquifer system in many areas of interest for CO2 storage, there are unlikely to be significant conflicts regarding saline water use for CCS. However, the Mt. Simon Formation, one of the key CO2 storage targets in this region, shallows to the northwest, in northern Illinois, where formation waters are fresh and the aquifer is an important groundwater source."

Greenville, Ohio sits on a freshwater sole source aquifer)
"Adapting to growing populations, declining water levels within key aquifers, and changing precipitation patterns may further strain heavily used groundwater resources in areas already impacted by water supply issues. Within certain regions of the nation, water scarcity concerns may prompt further consideration for targeting nearby high salinity or brackish water in deep aquifers for treatment by desalination technologies to augment more conventional supplies. Deep geologic formations that could be used as a permanent repository for anthropogenic CO2 in climate change mitigation efforts via CCS contain highly brackish waters that in select regions might represent potential targets for future waters supplies (particularly if they are below the salinity of seawater, approximately 35,000 mg/L TDS). This possibility might present a competing use for these deep geologic formations, and should be examined to estimate the potential probability, location, and magnitude, of such impacts."
"The likelihood that deep, saline groundwaters exceeding the USDW salinity threshold may be demanded as future sources of drinking or irrigation water increases in areas where groundwater currently supplies a significant portion of the region’s water supply; in areas with already constrained water supplies, such as the High Plains / Ogallala region; in areas where significant population growth is expected to overburden current surface and groundwater resources within the near- to mid-term, such as in parts of the Southwestern U.S. and areas of Texas; and in areas where there are limited other sources of saline waters (i.e., seawater) nearby."
' In areas that meet one or more of these criteria and also have a significant potential demand for deep geologic CO2 storage, there exists the possibility for differences of opinion regarding the best use of the saline groundwater underlying these regions. In such cases, permitting or garnering public acceptance for proposed CCS projects will require regulators and potential CCS operators to strike a balance between the future needs for high quality drinking and agricultural water, and the use of CCS in a given area as a climate change mitigation strategy."

CO2 Sequestration - Liability and States

As you research CO2 sequestration projects and the liability issues you often see articles that mention the state should take ownership after a certain time has passed. I wondered WHY a state would ever consider that option. Liability follows ownership...

Read both articles - VERY ENLIGHTENING.

This second link is to a PowerPoint Presentation by Ian Duncan, Bureau of Economic Geology University of Texas at Austin, to me, it tells the real story of CO2 sequestration -( see link below)

Check it out - not one word about how it cleans up the atmosphere, protecting us from the dangers of CO2 as a Green House Gas - No, it tells the real tale - how to get it done, even if it means doing a EOR project for public acceptance - to put dollars in deep pockets! (and at the time putting a false sense of security in the minds of their constituents with the sovereign immunity issue!

"CO2 EOR Is not “The Answer”…but CO2 EOR is a great beginning
• Economic or near economic in current market, depending on cost of CO2
• Acceptable to public
• Other major benefits (domestic energy production, taxes, employment)
• Build infrastructure that can be used long term for large volume CO2 disposal =
stacked storage

Could CO2 Sequestration Storage Volume in the Gulf Coast be valuable in the future?
~ 222 Billion Tons of CO2 at $30 to $80 a ton (based on economists projects)
…. You do the math!"

I couldn't help but hear the words of Paul Harvey in my ear as I read it, "and now you know the rest of the story".
And they wonder WHY communities object to this experimental technology?