Aliso Canyon Leak Pumping Massive Tonnage Into the Atmosphere Since October 2015
|Image is taken from flyover footage courtesy of the Environmental Defense Fund|
Methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than CO2, is spewing out of an underground storage facility in California at the rate of 100,000 pounds per hour or about 62 million standard cubic feet per day. Authorities are calling the ongoing crisis the worst ecological disaster since BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.*
There are various estimates as to how severe a leak of this scale is in terms of long term effect. According to the Washington Post, the impact of the leak so far can be compared to the effect of six coal-fired plants operating over 20 years.
Some 2,300 residents of Porter Ranch, CA have been forced to evacuate and two schools have been closed. Victims reported headaches and nosebleeds from exposure to the gas.
The company responsible, Southern California Gas Company, has been trying to stop the leak since October. As 2016 begins, it is unable to say when the methane can be contained, but the earliest estimate is “March.” According to reports, SCGC removed the original safety valve from the storage facility in 1979 but did not replace it because it was not required by regulations.
*The effects of Deepwater Horizon are still killing marine life in the Gulf.