The government has given the green light to a controversial experiment to store greenhouse gases in an empty natural gas chamber under a housing estate south of Rotterdam.
Economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven and environment minister Jacqueline Cramer said in a letter to MPs the underground storage of excess CO2 is both safe and necessary. The chance of problems occuring is ‘zero’, the NRC quoted Cramer as saying.
The test will involve small-scale storage of gas produced at Shell’s Pernis refinery under a residential area in Barendrecht. If this proves successful, the project will be extended under a much larger area.
The ministers said they had taken protests into account when making their decision. Local residents and the town council say they are worried about the safety aspects and the effect of the project on house prices. Zuid-Holland provincial council’s environment committee is also against the plan.
A spokesman for environmental group Milieudefensie said the decision was ‘strategically stupid’.
Greenpeace said the decision means the government is subsidising the oil and coal industry at a time when grants for green power projects are running out. The state is putting €30m into the Barendrecht project.
The idea of collecting CO2 from power plants and other polluters and injecting it underground is seen as crucial measure to combat climate change. ‘But the technical and economic hurdles are immense, and it has never been tested on a commercial scale,’ the Wall Street Journal said earlier this year.
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