Oregon

Chemicals From Geothermal Project Concerns Doctor In Bend

OPB | Jan. 23, 2012 10:28 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:02 a.m. | Portland, OR

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A family doctor in Bend who helped create Central Oregon’s Newberry Volcano National Monument has raised concerns about the chemicals that would be injected underground as part of a proposed geothermal energy project near the volcano.

AltaRock Energy of Seattle wants to use geothermal heat to generate electricity. To do that, the company has proposed injecting water into the cracks of hot rock 10,000 feet underground. The hot water would then be used for steam to power a turbine.

But Bend doctor Stuart Garrett took a closer look at the project’s environmental assessment. He found a list of other chemical agents – some of which are proprietary – that the company plans on injecting underground along with the water.

He’s asking the Bureau of Land Management for more information about these chemicals and the risks they might pose to human health.

“I’m concerned that there hasn’t been full disclosure. There hasn’t been transparency here. And I think people in Central Oregon having to deal with potential effects of the drilling need to be fully informed,” says Garrett.

AltaRock Energy President Susan Petty said the company has deliberately chosen chemical agents that are not toxic. She said the chemicals would be used in very minute quantities far below the groundwater table and precautions would be taken to avoid any leakage.

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