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EPA IS REQUESTED TO ISSUE OCEAN RESEARCH PERMIT FOR CARBON DIOXIDE TEST OFF KAUAI

Release Date: 3/14/2002
Contact Information: Mike Ardito, U.S. EPA, (415) 972-3081, ardito.michael@epa.gov

     Public Comments Due Within 30 Days
                               
     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that an international consortium has requested a research permit to conduct a two-week experiment injecting carbon dioxide into the ocean about four nautical miles offshore from Nawiliwili, Kauai.

     This proposed experiment is part of a larger effort to evaluate options for managing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with a long-range goal to slow the potential global "greenhouse" effect.  The focus of this proposed experiment -- injection of carbon dioxide into deep ocean waters, also known as "sequestration" -- represents one approach to carbon dioxide management.  

     The consortium's contractor, Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, a non-profit research and development organization based in Honolulu, will conduct the proposed project and collect data to validate computer modeling of the transient carbon dioxide plumes after injection into the ocean.  The proposed location for the research project is an EPA- designated ocean dredged material disposal site selected for its ideal weather and wave conditions.

     The 20 metric tons of liquid carbon dioxide proposed to be released during this experiment is 15 to 200 times smaller than the documented volume released from the submerged Lo'ihi volcanic vents located off Hawai'i over a two-week period in 1997.  This research project, consisting of a series of test releases over a two-week period, will evaluate the dispersion of liquid carbon dioxide droplets in ocean waters.

     The EPA will not issue the research permit until the proposed project activities have been determined to comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Essential Fish Habitat Act.  The EPA will require the applicant to monitor potential environmental impacts. The small-scale experiment is expected to have minimal adverse impacts on the marine environment including temporary short-term increases of seawater acidity in a small portion of the proposed research zone.

     The consortium member agencies or organizations include the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Penn., Australia's Division of Marine Research, Canada's Office of Energy Research and Development, Japan's Global Environmental Technology Department, the Research Council of Norway, and ABB Corporate Research of Switzerland.  The Pacific International Center for High Technology Research,  as the general contractor for the experiment, was selected and funded by Japan's Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth.

     If approved, the proposed 18-month research permit will allow for the consortium's contractor to arrange for research vessels and other logistics in advance of ideal ocean conditions under which the experiment will be performed.

     Comments regarding this proposed research permit must be submitted within 30 days of today's public notice.  Any requests for a public hearing must be in writing and state any objections to the issuance or denial of the permit.  The EPA's regional administrator will determine whether the EPA will hold a public hearing based upon genuine issues of policy or facts.

     The application and other relevant documents are available for public review during regular working hours at the following designated repositories: the EPA's Pacific Islands contact office in Honolulu (telephone number 808-541-2710); Lihue, Kauai Public Library (contact telephone number 808- 241-3222); and the EPA's Region 9 office in San Francisco.  For instructions on how to provide written comments, please visit the EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/kauai/ or contact Allan Ota at the EPA in San Francisco at (415) 972-3476.

   

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