Community and industry concern is growing regarding a proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that would see liquified carbon dioxide injected into a water producing aquifer within the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).
The GAB is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world. It generates approximately $13 billion in value for the national economy every year and is a vital resource for 180,000 people, 7,600 businesses and 120 towns. This natural resource is not only heavily relied upon by agriculture but is also the lifeblood of multiple industries and rural communities and it supports an incredible array of biodiversity.
Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation Pty Ltd (CTSCo), a subsidiary company of Glencore, proposes to inject liquified carbon dioxide (CO2) into a usable GAB aquifer representing a significant threat to one of Australia’s greatest natural resources and subsequently the businesses, communities and bioregions reliant upon it.
Whilst CCS processes are emerging globally as a potential tool in contributing to reduced emission targets, research shows that the application of CCS within a usable water resource is unprecedented globally. Other examples globally show CCS being used in conjunction with poor quality, heavily saline formations and depleted oil and gas reservoirs, not aquifers that produce valuable water.
Once injected, the corrosive fluid will cause a 10,000 fold increase in groundwater acidity which will dissolve the aquifer rock and result in the mobilisation of heavy metals such as arsenic and lead into the aquifer, with the potential to move towards other existing water users.
Genuine concerns have been raised regarding the lack of scientific evidence underpinning the project and the idea of injecting what is essentially industrial waste in a usable water resource is alarming and surely must evoke the precautionary principle outlined in both environmental protection and water management legislation.
This project is identified as a trial and QFF understands that significant expansion plans will likely be proposed following the trial with further GAB sites to be considered for similar projects. The longer-term upscale potential and associated future culminative impacts on the GAB is of significant concern.
Given the importance of the GAB, the agricultural and community uses of the aquifer in questions, it makes no sense as to why a trial of a waste disposal project would even be contemplated in this site.
QFF calls on the Queensland Government to reject the proposal. Furthermore, QFF calls for the government to cease issuing exploration permits for CCS in the GAB and instead implement urgent policy parameters to strongly guide and underpin where it is appropriate to explore CCS projects and where it is not, safeguarding the future of environmental assets such as the GAB, and protecting it for generations to come.