Friday, 13 November 2009

A numby revolt

Not under my backyard is what the residents of Barendrecht in the Netherlands are saying about carbon dioxide storage in the latest outbreak of numbyism. The good citizens of this town, which is a 15-minute train ride from Rotterdam, are objecting to a plan to use an old gas field under their properties to store carbon dioxide pumped from a nearby Shell oil refinery. The project would pump 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide starting from 2011 into two depleted gas fields two kilometres (more than a mile) under the town. The gasfields are considered by some a safer choice than current experiments under the the North Sea and the Sahara Desert where a water-bearing rock layer, or aquifer, is being used. The Dutch government  — which has set a target of lowering CO2 emissions by 30%from 1990 levels by 2020  — has made available a subsidy of €30 million. It is providing the same amount for a second project in South-Limburg.
Shell will handle the storage and monitoring of CO2 at Barendrecht with OCAP, a joint venture of Linde Gas and VolkerWessels, responsible for transport and compression. The plan is that once the CO2 is in place, it will be permanently sealed with concrete plugs up to 100 metres in length. The city council in Barendrecht has voted against the plan and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment are expected to decide later this year if the project should go ahead.
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