Massive Methane Gas Leak In L.A. Worst In U.S. History, Won’t Be Fixed Till April

Coburn Palmer

The massive runaway methane gas leak in Northern Los Angeles County that has forced thousands from their homes is already the largest gas leak in U.S. history and experts are worried the environmental disaster could get worse.

The gas storage fields near Porter Ranch have been spewing massive amounts of methane into the air since October and Southern California Gas executives say the leak won't be fixed until April at the earliest.

A new infrared video shows the invisible methane gas billowing from the leaky Aliso Canyon well at the rate of 110,000 pounds per hour.

Tim O'Connor, California climate director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Washington Post 150 million pounds of methane gas have been vented into the atmosphere since October.

"It is coming out with force, in incredible volumes. And it is absolutely uncontained."

Fearing an explosion, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned aircraft flying below 2,000 feet from going within a half-mile of the well.

Although SoCalGas executives claim the methane gas leak isn't lethal, area residents have reported suffering from poisoning symptoms including headaches, heart problems, confusion, dizziness and loss of motor control.

SoCalGas executives aren't sure exactly what caused the leak or where the damage is and several attempts to stop the gas leak with fluids have proved unsuccessful. The company is now planning to drill down 8,000 feet to the caprock with a relief well in a move similar to the plan engineers used to stop oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

The massive ongoing gas leak is being called the largest environmental catastrophe since the 2010 BP oil spill and it won't be fixed for months.

The move to drill a relief well is the expected procedure, but its also involves drilling near gas under high pressure, something that is not without it's own risks, Cornell University professor Robert Howarth told Utility Dive.

I'm sure they are worried about an explosion, but I'm also sure they are trying not to worry people. But a fire cloud in the air seems possible.

The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated.
"SoCalGas, has essentially ignored the impact to victims and its actions have instead added to their suffering."

[Photo Credit: Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool]