LETTER: CO2 pipeline must comply with all safety measures | Letters

Summit Carbon Solutions offers a carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline through Iowa. Although CO2 seems harmless since we breathe it in, it becomes toxic on its own.

CO2 is colorless, odorless and 1.5 times heavier than air. In a pipeline leak, it flows, displacing oxygen-containing air, and settles in low areas, including basements, eventually suffocating people, livestock, and other animals. There is no cloud to warn you (colorless). Gasoline vehicles driven in such an area would cease to operate due to lack of oxygen for gas combustion. Since it is heavy, CO2 would not disperse without strong winds or absorption by vegetation. He couldn’t be burned either.

CO2 pipelines also have unique issues. To make CO2 compact enough for pipeline transport, it must be pressurized into the supercritical high pressure range (120-140 bar). Rapid depressurization, such as during a leak, can cool the surface to -130 degrees F, making the surrounding pipeline brittle, leading to further failure. A small leak can quickly become a big leak. The pipeline should be highly corrosion resistant and CO2 free from contamination as possible. Any water containing CO2 causes a chemical reaction forming carbonic acid which is highly corrosive to steel and cement.

If this pipeline is allowed, it must be done with monitoring at every stage.

Emergency management protocols, alert systems and adequate equipment, including breathing apparatus for all responders, should be included. The public must be educated and have easy access to information regarding CO2 hazards and response. — Cindy Dorr-Harthan, Ayrshire, Iowa


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Susan W. Lloyd