California Methane Gas Leak Now Considered the Biggest Disaster Since BP Oil Spill

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Published: Jan 12, 2016 – Last Update: Feb 5, 2016.

“It’s a huge disaster. It’s like a volcano that keeps erupting and won’t stop. I call it the BP oil spill on land. I think we’ll see the fallout for many, many years.” – Erin Brockovich

The coming weekend we were going to go to LA. Then we learned about the methane gas leak through the most random of routes, barely covered by mainstream news until very recently, and we were shocked! We were very concerned about it since it is so close to where we would have been located (within 26 miles).

This uncontrollable California gas leak is now named the worst environmental catastrophe since BP oil spill. Which of course is enough to stun anyone in itself. SoCal Gas Co. states the leak likely will not be contained until March and unlikely to be completely safe in that area for many months to come. This leak has been noted as a state of emergency by the governor, an immense hazard to health and a huge threat to the environment.

In fact, Erin Brockovich stepped onto the scene and explained the gravity of the situation as well as how she is helping over 500 individuals with the horrors they are having to endure. She stated “It’s a huge disaster. It’s like a volcano that keeps erupting and won’t stop. I call it the BP oil spill on land. I think we’ll see the fallout for many, many years.”

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On October 23rd Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas Co.)  discovered a leak at their Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. It is still spewing and leaking a lot of methane into the atmosphere causing many health issues for those nearby residents and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. Though kept relatively quiet, it is now known as the worst environmental disaster since the Exxon oil spill.

The Health Department held a community meeting in Porter Ranch on exposure to methane and mercaptans (the smell added to natural gas) officials had said that nausea, dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath and headaches were among the complaints (CNN). The carcinogenic benzene added to methane and smell of sulphur is highly toxic for the body, which is leading to many symptoms of those directly in the area (many of which have relocated) and those near the area which also can begin with experiencing minimal symptoms such as sluggishness, tiredness and lethargy. Due to methane being a slow poison, and the gas flowing over LA like a slow tsunami, it can be hard to identify the symptoms until it has infiltrated the body’s system to a very severe degree. It is poisonous to the liver causing major need for detoxes and will lead to long-term health issues if exposed to very little for along time, or a lot for a very little time.

Amount of methane gas currently leaking and the equivalents:

The gas leak is also listed to possibly cause long-term health effects as the chemicals are listed as known carcinogens. It is leaking only 20 minutes (27 miles) away from LAX (Los Angeles Airport). So those in the area might want to consider visiting family for a few months farther away, as the methane will spread and has been doing so for many months already without concern or attention until immense health issues arose to awaken SoCal Gas Co.

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The gas has benzene in the methane which can lead to cancer, brain problems, and much more long-term health issues as listed above. They say it’s going to be at least two months until they can release the pressure and try to fix it. They don’t even have the part to fix it at all, so much hasn’t even been done yet, thus the flow continues.

“One of the wells in the Aliso Canyon facility, SS-25, is leaking methane. Engineers still do not know why, or exactly where in the well the leak is located. Like many of the wells that go down into the “capstone” atop the gas deposits, SS-25 is extremely deep, extending almost 9,000 feet (more than a mile and a half) into the earth. SS-25 was built in 1954, shifted to gas storage in 1973, and was last upgraded in 1979. It was last inspected on October 21, 2014.” [3]

Jerry Brown, governor, has declared this to be a state emergency. It is now known as being the second largest natural disaster since the Exxon Valdez spill.

The SoCal gas co. has known about the leak for 70+ days and only took action recently, not to mention the news barely took action until very recently itself. The amount of days added up with the amount of gas that has leaked is calculated to be several thousand tons of methane gas that has been leaking into the air and over the hills for several months and weeks now. People have been relocated to Hollywood and such areas, though the gas does seem to be slowly moving in that direction as well.

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Hollywood is 23 miles NW of Porter Ranch (location of gas leak) and if the winds are blowing South this would cause immense issue. The winds as of Jan 11, 2016 were blowing at around 11MPH from the West. In Porter Ranch, CA the winds are coming in from the North. The average wind speed is 7mph. The winds have been blowing from the South and the gas has spread to Hollywood.

The gas does seem to be affecting the environment already, though quite soon, in the drastic weather changes unusual to the area at this time of the year.

Article from a day ago: “Southern California Gas Co., has been spewing up to 1,200 tons of methane daily, along with other gases. The leak was first reported in October.” [1]

Article from 40 days ago: “The Gas Company has already relocated 700 Porter Ranch residents to hotels; an additional 2,000 have requested relocation. The company is also being slammed with lawsuits: one from the city of Los Angeles, a potential one from LA County, plus a class action lawsuit from Porter Ranch locals. Though experts with the LA County Public Health Department have said that the short-term effects from both the methane and the chemical additive that gives it its signature old egg smell are minimal, the longer the leak goes on, the higher the risk that the small amounts of toxic elements in the methane (like carcinogenic benzene) will build up and have long-lasting effects on those exposed.
The leak is pouring out an estimated 50,000 kilograms of methane every hour—in a one-month period, it released the equivalent of a quarter of all of California’s total methane emissions. The Gas Company’s best idea for plugging the leak right now involves drilling a relief well, which is expected to take a few months.” [2]
Citation/Continued Reading:
[2] http://www.ibtimes.com/huge-natural-gas-leak-southern-california-wasting-millions-dollars-worth-fuel-video-2243326[3] http://www.vox.com/2016/1/11/10749602/california-gas-leak-explained

Other Continued Reading:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/methane-is-leaking-all-over-the-place/

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