Government energy ministers gathering in Washington, D.C., today launched 11 energy-efficiency and renewable energy initiatives around the world, which they claim will avoid the need to build 500 midsize power plants during the next 20 years.
Of particular note is that "the United States and a dozen other nations will create what is being called the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Action Group to develop a strategic plan for deploying carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) infrastructure around the world by 2020. Hopefully the development of this "strategic plan" is transparent and allows for the participation of NGOs representing a range of interests, in particular the public interest.
For example, one might recall the issue with lead in paint. While not saying that lead in cement/limestone brick is analogous to lead in paint, BUT – consider the following example of what some companies are doing at the pilot scale with CCS technologies: capturing carbon dioxide and other toxic heavy metals and forming a carbonate mineral brick that embeds the toxic heavy metals, for use in buildings and other infrastructures .
Coal-fired power plants represent the largest source of mercury
emission in the United States, but most operate with minimal controls
designed to capture particulate matter that remove less than 35% of the
mercury from their flue gas. This removal percentage can increase to
greater than 50% when a sulfur scrubber is added, but capture levels
are dependent upon coal type. With new federal and state regulations
emerging, many power plants are contemplating the use of activated
carbon injection (ACI) or other additional controls to remove more
mercury from flue gas. The Calera CMAP process has the potential to
not only capture mercury that would otherwise be emitted, but to bind
it into the mineral output in a way that will prevent leaching to the
environment..As with mercury, other trace metals can be captured by the CMAP
process, including lead, chromium, cadmium, selenium, zinc, and others." Available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/etaac/meetings/102909pubmeet/mtgmaterials102909/basicsofcaleraprocess.pdf
Studies indicate that leaching of heavy metals from the mineral, while being below US guidelines, does indeed occur. Moreover, what happens in the case of intentional demolition? Or, what about earthquakes stronger than the specifications of building codes? Perhaps the settlement of the "9-11 illness" victims, including many first responders, warrants consideration? (see article on the 9-11 Settlement here)
While these toxic heavy metals may be contained for a period of time, these solutions do not appear to offer a permanent solution, to say the least. All the more reason for transparency and public participation in the development of these "strategic guidelines" for CCS.