Public debate revisited on Barendrecht CO2 storage

The report, compiled by geologist Peter van der Gaag, states that the former gas fields under Barendrecht are ‘technical-geologically’ unsuited for CO2 storage. The report was ordered by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, but was never made publicly available. The television programme exposing this affair has sparked up new discussions about the safety of CO2 storage in Barendrecht.

At the time, researchers from the University of Utrecht judged that the report would score 3 out of 10 (with 5 being a pass in higher education in the Netherlands) if it had been written by a student.

“Without more detailed information, it’s unclear to me whether or not it’s a scandal that the government held back this report”, said PhD student, Nicole Huijts, who specializes in public acceptance of new technologies at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management of the University of Utrecht.

Nevertheless, the fact that it was withheld from publication has caused a rise in distrust and reignited public debate.

“It would’ve been better if the government had started a public debate about this much earlier,” Huijts added.

“Ten years ago this topic had already appeared in policy documents. A lot of technical and legal issues, as well as the best spots to store the carbon, must still be determined, but nevertheless the government should have started debates. That way people would’ve had more time to get used to the idea,” she said.

The response to the Barendrecht television documentary clearly highlights the importance of integrating public outreach programmes with technical advancements of CCS projects from the very beginning.

To learn more on this process, access Bellona’s Guidelines for public support of CCS here.