It is safe to assume that none of you have seen the trailer for this movie so here it is.
The basis for the movie is that CO2 from a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project will somehow escape from the earth and kill people in a low-lying valley. CO2 is heavier than air, odorless, colorless, and can displace breathable air to the point of asphyxiation.
The trailer of the movie claims that the movie is based on true events from around the world which is an intentionally misleading statement. The event to which they are referring was a natural catastrophe at Lake Nyos located in western Cameroon. A large amount of CO2 built up in the bottom of the lake, and something caused about 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 to destabilize and come out of solution rapidly. The CO2 spilled over the edge of the crater and killed around 3500 people. Smaller events have been observed in lakes around Lake Nyos, but nothing of that magnitude. In the US small events in Yellowstone have been known to kill bison, but the reasons for the high CO2 concentrations are different.
To date, there have been no recorded CO2 leaks from CCS sites anywhere in the world, and there only a handful operating. The CCS projects are uses as a proof of concept to show that large scale CO2 sequestration is feasible. Teams of scientist and engineers work together to characterize all geologic sites being considered for CO2 Injection, and there is almost no question of whether CO2 will stay in the ground. Even if a freak event were to occure and the CO2 somehow managed to find a direct path back to the surface the leak should be slow enough to pose little danger to the environment.
Why? Currently, the largest CCS injection demonstrations are injecting just over 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year which nicely reflect the approximate amount of CO2 a small coal fire plant produces in a year. If a Lake Nyos size event were to occur it would require releasing more than years worth of CO2 all at one time. That scenario is effectively impossible because injection sites are constantly monitored for the development of leaks, and if a leak started it would be like trying to empty lake superior through a straw. The flue gas coming out of the stack of a coal power plant does not directly kill anyone and a leak from a sequestration project wouldn’t either.
If you would really like to know our current status regarding Carbon Capture and Storage check out some of these links. There is a lot of science that goes into making CCS decisions.
Update: It appears that the movie has been put on hold as they have run out of money. 🙂 Hopefully they never get the money to finish it.