Friday, September 21, 2007

Toxic Waste Injection Risks Earthquakes.

There are plans afoot to inject some nine million cubic metres of toxic chemical waste into the ground near to the Wafra farms area of southern Kuwait. The chairman of Green Line Environmental Group, Khaled Al-Hajri, has accused the Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) - which is a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC) - and the Saudi SAK Oil Company of "anti-environmental procedures" which have caused the creation of a lake of toxic liquid petroleum wastes with a volume of about 9 million cubic metres, near to crops growing at Al-Wafra. He said that: "The lake is 3 x 2 kilometres long and about 1.5 metres deep, [and is] the largest of its nature in the Arabian Gulf area."

Now Kuwait is an arid country and its groundwater levels have fallen significantly during recent years, hence there is pressure on providing water for farming there. It might appear then that pumping contaminated water into dry ground which will readily absorb it, as will any plants that grow there, is asking for trouble. Al-Hajry is of the opinion that the two companies are intent on this strategy simply to rid themselves of a problem they have created themselves. However, in addition to the toxic risk to vegetation (and to any humans and animals that eat it) there is the further prospect of tremors, since such a practice of suffusing rock-layers with fluid material will disrupt its structure, thus creating new fractures and deepening existing ones. He pointed out that the consequences would be earthquakes in the Al-Wafra region that could strike as far away as the Al-Khafgee area in Saudi Arabia where a significant population lives, and risking many lives.

Al-Hari explained: "I have attempted repeatedly to contact Acting Oil Minister, Mohamed Al-Olaim, who has not replied. I have resorted to foreign individuals to interfere since Kuwaiti nationals who have the power to stop this aren't cooperating. KGOC administrators claim that our information is exaggerated despite their knowledge that it is extracted from their own documents which they are trying to hide from the public.

Stressing the potentially calamitous consequences of the waste-injection procedure, Al-Hajri said it would lead to pollution of the soil with toxic materials and contamination of groundwaters that could extend to the Wafra farmlands poisoning their crops, in addition to the blockage (and contamination?) of water wells, causing "severe uncontrollable geological problems" (e.g. quakes). The technology was apparently used in Purdhoe Bay in Alaska in 1997, and resulted in "natural catastrophes" - which were presumably triggered from their "natural" course.

According to an anonymous source from the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR), there has been no contamination of any kind in Al-Wafra, and the PAAAFR routinely performs analyses of samples from the region which have never provided any indication of pollution by petroleum chemical wastes. He did note, however that, "We have noticed an increase in groundwater levels in that region and will collaborate with the Ministry of Water and Electricity to tackle this issue."

I wonder what that really means?

The whole business seems to me to be another example of the dangers of "Geo-engineering", i.e. tinkering around with natural structures and processes, with unknown consequences, as was demonstrated by the Swiss Geothermal Project, recently, in which the injection of water into hot-rock at depths of 3 miles caused earthquakes as far as 10 miles distant, near the city of Basle.

Related Reading.
"Injection Risks Tremors, Pollution"; "Green" sounds toxic alarm; "Tests negative", By Dahlia Kholaif, Arab Times:


Anonymous said...

bonjour de belgique !

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Bonjour aussi! Parlez vous Anglais...? C'est bien mon ami! I will read your site,