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Massive California Methane Leak Made Visible

posted: 12/28/15
by: Danny Clemens

A ruptured gas well is spewing 62 million cubic feet of invisible methane into the San Fernando Valley each day -- and, for the first time, the massive leak has been made visible.

The Environmental Defense Fund, working in tandem with conservation organization Earthworks, recently released footage of the Aliso Canyon leak that calls upon specialized infrared technology to make the clear gas visible:


Since late October, an estimated 73,000 tons of methane has escaped the well. The highly flammable gas is 20 times more potent by weight than carbon dioxide, and contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas effect.

Related: How Your Trash Impacts Climate Change

"What you can't see is easy to ignore. That's why communities that suffer from pollution from oil and gas development are often dismissed by industry and regulators," Earthworks spokesman Alan Septoff says in a news release.

"Making invisible pollution visible shows the world what people in Porter Ranch have been living with every day for months."

The leak, which was first reported in late October, has already forced the closure of two schools and the relocation of a thousand local residents. More than 2,500 additional residents have already requested relocation services from Southern California Gas Company, which operates the fractured well.

In a letter to customers, CEO Dennis Arriola says that the company hopes to have the leak sealed by February 2016. To do so, engineers must drill more than 8,000 feet into the ground to intercept the leak at its source.

Related: Excess Trees in Japan are Harming the Environment

"As of December 19, we have drilled about 3,300 feet and are in our second of five phases of the drilling process," Arriola writes.

"Once the relief well intercepts the leaking well, we will pump fluids and cement into the bottom of the well to stop the flow of gas and permanently seal it."

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