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Q: What Would a CO2 Leak from an Industrial Site Look Like?

A: Even though we spend a lot of time looking, we haven’t found a good example.

Even though carbon dioxide has been injected underground since the 1970’s for  a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR) there hasn’t been a notable leak of CO2 from underground at an injection site.

You have probably never heard of the Underground Injection Control Program, which is responsible for regulating anything that’s injected underground. The UIC has done such a good job of regulating underground injection over the last 40 years, that we don't have a good example of a CO2 leak from an industrial site to write about.

Dr. Susan Hovorka of the Gulf Coast Carbon Center approved this FAQ.



Please click on the link to the left for more information about GCCC's study of the SACROC oil field, a site of industrial injection of CO2 since the 1970's.



The Zero Emissions Research and Technology project in Montana is engineering controlled releases of CO2. To link to the ZERT website, click left.



For more information on the risks associated with CO2 leaking from wells, please click on the link to the left.




You may have heard of a reported CO2 leak at a farm in Saskatchewan in 2011. A group of international scientists took a hard look at the geology and biology near the farm. Their extensive field and lab found no evidence that carbon dioxide was leaking from geologic reservoirs. For a documentary on the research, click the link to the left.



We can also learn about what a carbon dioxide leak at an industrial site would look like by studying naturally occuring leaks of CO2, or natural analogs. For more information about natural analogs, please see our related FAQ.