Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on November 30, 2011 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Getting to the bottom of carbon capture and storage

Kimberly Shearon headshotKimberly ShearonStaff

With some help from Ecojustice, a Saskatchewan family is a little closer to getting answers to the questions they’ve been asking for the last six years.

Namely, is carbon capture and storage safe? And, what impact does it have on the surrounding environment?

Cameron and Jane Kerr first noticed changes to the surface water and well water on their property in 2004, one year after Cenovus Energy began injecting CO2 into the ground beneath their land. Disturbances included bubbling and foaming water, unusual algae blooms in ponds and animal carcasses found strewn around the ponds.

Fearing for their health, they raised their concerns with Cenovus and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources. Both failed to address those concerns or carry out an in-depth investigation.

Frustrated, the Kerrs turned to Ecojustice for advice. Armed with independent research indicating that the CO2 found in their property’s soil may be linked to Cenovus’ CO2 injection site, we tried to convince the energy giant and the ministry to investigate.

When that didn’t work, we threatened legal action and went public with the Kerrs’ concerns, in hopes that widespread media attention would force Cenovus and the ministry to act.

It worked. Cenovus launched an investigation, the results of which were released yesterday.

The energy giant says its site assessment shows that CO2 is not leaking from its carbon capture site onto the Kerr property.

We’re currently reviewing the assessment, but are also waiting for the findings of an independent investigation carried out by IPAC-CO2 Inc., a research organization based at the University of Regina. Those findings will be released mid-December.

“The reality is that Cenovus Energy and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources failed to properly investigate Cameron and Jane’s concerns during the last six years,” said Barry Robinson, the Ecojustice staff lawyer advising the Kerrs.

“After years of requesting an in-depth investigation on their property, the Kerrs are glad to see that Cenovus has finally conducted an investigation of the potential impacts carbon capture and storage may have on their property.”

Government and major industry players must be accountable for their actions and must be open and transparent in their efforts to address the concerns of everyday Canadians — like Cameron and Jane Kerr — who are potentially affected by those actions.

Although it took six years and the threat of a lawsuit, the fact that an investigation took place is a win for Ecojustice and for all Canadians.

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