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.”
Almost 2,000 homes and two nearby schools have already been evacuated and remain empty while another 5,000 families are waiting to be moved. A judge just ordered each family be compensated $8,500 per month, according to Breitbart News.
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.
Why aren't more people talking about what's happening in Aliso Canyon, CA? https://t.co/SnJ91iqWra— Patrick J Adams (@halfadams) December 27, 2015
Aside from the health affects, the natural gas also presents an explosive danger and is a toxic greenhouse gas far worse than carbon dioxide.
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.
Erin Brockovich, the environmental legal activist made famous by the movie bearing her name, visited Porter Ranch and experienced many of the symptoms area families have been forced to deal with for months, reports EcoWatch.
The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated.
She said the company’s refusal to release air quality information makes it impossible for doctors to provide the correct aid to so many suffering people. Add to that the fact that no one knows what the long-term side effects of the carcinogens found in the natural gas are and it’s easy to understand resident’s anger, according to EcoWatch.
“SoCalGas, has essentially ignored the impact to victims and its actions have instead added to their suffering.”
Meanwhile, despite the ongoing ecological disaster, mounting relocation costs, and looming fines the company has continued with plans to expand the Aliso Canyon facility; something area residents say is outrageous.
[Photo Credit: Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool]