CCS leak research reveals little impact on sea life

A project investigating the enviornmental effects of a leak from a subsea carbon capture and storage (CCS) system in Scotland found it had “little impact” on sea life. Results from […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

A project investigating the enviornmental effects of a leak from a subsea carbon capture and storage (CCS) system in Scotland found it had “little impact” on sea life.

Results from the Scottish Association for Marine Science’s (SAMS) experiment in collaboration with other UK institutions, which started in 2012, were recently published in a scientific journal.

CCS is a technology that can capture up to 90% of carbon emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes and store it underground.

The scientists injected 4,200 kg of carbon dioxide gas into the sediments below the seabed for a 37-day period in northwest Scotland as part of the experiment.

They claim they didn’t find any impact on commercial shellfish collected from the area around the gas release. Although some species of fish and shellfish left the immediate area of the gas release, they returned again within weeks of the gas release stopping.

Dr Henrik Stahl from the Oban-based Scottish Association for Marine Science said: “We could see a clear but very localised signal from the carbon dioxide towards the end of the release phase, close to the injection point. But we were surprised to see how quickly this signal disappeared after the injection was stopped. The sediments have a ‘buffering effect’ on the carbon dioxide, at least for a short term leak like this one.”