Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One Broken Pipe Is Leaking a Huge Amount of Methane

Gas pipes (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
A gas storage site in Los Angeles has been leaking for more than a month, in what environmentalists say should be a “wake-up call” for regulators about the state’s aging gas infrastructure.

The Aliso Canyon storage well, about 30 miles northwest of downtown, is releasing 50,000 kilograms of methane an hour, according to an estimate from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).  The Southern California Gas Company discovered the leak on October 23 and has been unable to contain it.

“This is sort of the worst case scenario,” EDF’s Tim O’Connor told ThinkProgress.  His group estimates the storage well has lost about 2 percent of its gas.

Because natural gas is 80 percent methane, and methane is a potent greenhouse gas, the amount Aliso Canyon has leaked will have the impact of 2.6 to 2.9 million metric tons of carbon for the next 20 years.  Put another way, every day the leak continues, it single-handedly accounts for 25 percent of California’s total methane emissions.

A spokesperson for the company said it was impossible to determine how much gas had leaked at this time.  “We are committed to — and we will — stop the flow of gas, and are working with some of the world’s best well management experts to seal the leak as quickly and as safely as possible,” Kristine Lloyd told ThinkProgress in an email.  “We are unable to provide a specific timetable, but the relief well process could take several months.  While the relief well is built, we will continue to try to stop the flow of gas by pumping fluids down the well.”

Read more at One Broken Pipe Is Leaking a Huge Amount of Methane

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