Commitment to Safety
What is CCS?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), also known as carbon capture and sequestration, helps manufacturers, industrial producers and power-generating facilities meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements in a cost-effective, responsible manner. CCS captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by these plants before they enter the atmosphere. The captured CO2 is liquified, transported and permanently stored deep underground beneath a thick layer of impermeable cap rock. The CO2 then naturally mineralizes and dissolves over time.
Is CCS a new technology?
No. According to the Global CCS Institute, CCS projects have been operating since the mid-1990s with proven results. Today, there are 27 fully operational CCS facilities in the world, with another 135 in development. About half of these are in the United States.
How does a CCS project impact above-ground land use?
A CCS project utilizes pore space deep below ground to store CO2. Except for the relatively small number of above-ground injection wells, monitoring equipment and monitoring wells, nothing changes above ground. Farmers and landowners can continue to use their land just as they always have.
Can CCS impact drinking water?
The EPA has developed extensive criteria to ensure that carbon storage does not threaten underground drinking water. These requirements address: siting, construction, operation, testing and ongoing monitoring. Sequestered CO2 is stored deep underground (3,000- 12,000 feet), far below the water table (350 feet), and is sealed in place by thick layers of caprock. Seismic imaging will be used to determine the location of the CO2 in the storage field and deep monitoring will confirm no CO2 is migrating upward. Shallow groundwater monitoring wells will ensure local drinking water is protected.
Is CCS safe?
Yes, CO2 is odorless, colorless and incombustible, which means it can be safely transferred through pipelines to injection wells into geologically secure storage areas. Injection wells are rigorously permitted by the EPA, which also governs the siting, operation, testing and long-term maintenance of the wells.
What happens if there’s a leak?
The deep underground storage sites where CO2 is being injected are chosen specifically for their proven geologic ability to hold water, oil or gas for millions of years. The CO2 will reside in porous rock and is sealed in place by a layer of cap rock. These storage sites are monitored 24/7, 365 days a year by pressure sensors that can detect upward migration of CO2 and immediately implement measures to address it. If this happens, we will – as required by our permits – stop injecting CO2. We will then work to identify and repair the leak. In these rare instances, leaks generally are found in the casing near the injection site and are easy to repair. Regardless, we will work with local first responders to ensure they have the training and equipment needed to respond to any unexpected situations related to this project.
Can CO2 storage sites or pipeline explode?
No. CO2 is neither explosive nor flammable.
What about blow-outs?
A blow-out is a term used to describe when CO2 quickly surfaces at high pressure. As with all deep oil or gas wells, blow-outs are possible at CO2 injection sites. Incidents are rare with minimal amounts of CO2 released that quickly disperse into the atmosphere. Comprehensive precautions are in place to ensure that our team and local emergency personnel are provided with dedicated training and protocol plans to recognize and respond to this scenario.
Is CCS regulated?
Yes. CCS storage fields are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Underground Injection Control Program. This program sets and monitors regulations for injection well siting, construction and operation to ensure drinking water and human health are protected. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also oversees development and technology field testing to ensure that the regulations relating to the safe storage of CO2 underground are met. Additionally, CCS pipelines must meet requirements laid out by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (U.S. Department of Transportation).