Energy

Infrared Video Shows Massive Natural Gas Leak In LA [VIDEO]

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A natural gas leak near Los Angeles has spewed more than 150 million pounds of methane into the atmosphere since late October, prompting activists and officials to wonder if the leak will get plugged anytime soon.

The gusher, which has been pumping out 110,000 pounds per hour for the better part of two months, began in an underground storage container nestled deep in the hills of Aliso Canyon, an area located near Burbank, Cali., according to a Washington Post report.

Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), the company responsible for the container, expects the leak to be patched within the course of three or four months. The leak, which company authorities believe was caused by a well casing failure, has displaced 2,600 people from their homes, as well as temporarily shut down two schools in the area.

SoCalGas drilled a relief well and poured a brine into the hole to stifle the leak, but so far those measures have not born fruit. The crew working on the patch must now drill another relief well 8,500 feet into the ground in order to meet the base of the leaking pipe — they have drilled only 3,800 feet down, or half the distance, meaning the leak will likely be stuck open for some time.

The company stands to lose tens of millions of dollars, with the cost from infrastructure damage likely to be substantially higher.

WATCH:

SoCalGas, in a statement on its website, apologized to the surrounding community, adding the leak “does not pose an imminent threat to public safety.”

“Scientists agree natural gas is not toxic and that its odorant is harmless at the minute levels at which it is added to natural gas. In outdoor locations such as this, natural gas quickly dissipates into the air, greatly reducing the possibility for ignition and further diluting the gas as it reaches the public,” the statement reads.

The Environmental Defense Fund posted an infrared video online of the methane leak, which is invisible to the naked eye in its natural state, revealing the magnitude of the task SoCalGas must undertake to squelch the bellowing plumes of gas. The video shows the gas jettisoning into the air from the hilltop.

“It is one of the biggest leaks we’ve ever seen reported,” Tim O’Connor, California climate director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Washington Post. “It is coming out with force, in incredible volumes. And it is absolutely uncontained.”

About one-fourth of the gas contributing to global warming is methane, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. It is also believed to be several times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.

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