Assessment of Potentially Deleterious Effect of Geologic Carbon Sequestration Operations on Groundwater Quality

Since groundwater is a major water source for municipal and agricultural uses in the Central Valley, it is critical to understand potential impacts to groundwater before full scale geologic sequestration begins.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Recipient

Berkeley, CA

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

15th

Assembly District

beenhere

$600,000

Amount Spent

closed

Completed

Project Status

Project Result

This project improved the understanding of the physical and chemical processes associated with geologic carbon sequestration and the potential effects on groundwater. Specifically the project determined how a potential leak of carbon dioxide into a drinking water aquifer might impact drinking water quality. Results show increasing carbon dioxide concentrations leads to detectable releases of many metals from Central Valley sediments, including uranium, arsenic, and nickel, and can raise concentrations of some dissolved metal ions of regulatory concern. This research helps narrow the focus for future research on any impacts on water quality and public health and mitigation approaches.

The Issue

The Scoping Plan for the Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 (AB 32) specifically identifies the combustion of natural gas as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions within California and identifies carbon sequestration as a strategy which holds significant potential for mitigating these effects. The thick marine sediments in California's Central Valley hold deep saline aquifers that have been identified as prime targets for the geological sequestration of CO2. However a number of questions remain about the environmental impacts of geological CO2 sequestration, including possible impacts on ground water supply.

Project Innovation

The project studied potential water quality impacts at each stage of a hypothetical CO2 leak, from leaching of organics from the storage aquifer and along the leakage pathway, to release of metals from shallow aquifer sediment, as well as the transport of impacted water to the surface.

Project Benefits

This research advanced our understanding of potential groundwater quality impacts from geologic carbon sequestration; potentially one of the major barriers to commercial application of this greenhouse gas mitigation strategy.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

Since groundwater is a major water source for municipal and agricultural uses in the Central Valley, it is critical to understand potential impacts to groundwater before full scale geologic sequestration begins.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Peter Nico

Manager

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