There's a Massive Gas Leak in California and This Won't Be the Last You Hear of It

There's a Massive Gas Leak in California and This Won't Be the Last You Hear of It
Source: AP
Source: AP

A blown SoCal Gas well 25 miles north of Los Angeles in Aliso Canyon has been spewing tens of millions of cubic feet of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, for weeks in what many are calling the biggest environmental disaster in the United States since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Motherboard reports the gas is leaking into the air at a rate of 110,000 pounds per hour. The Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group, notes "methane – the main component of natural gas – is a powerful short-term climate forcer, with over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. ... [The current rate of leakage is] the same short-term greenhouse gas impact as the emissions from 7 million cars."

The gas has been leaking since Oct. 23, and the company is still working on the problem. 

Source: YouTube

According to Agence France-Presse, as of late December some 2,147 families have been relocated from the region while "hundreds more have left the area on their own." Residents reported symptoms including nausea, nose bleeds and illness, as well reported their quality of life was being ruined by the constant stench of the gas leak.

SoCal Gas spokesman Michael Mizrahi told AFP the leak will take several more months to repair, as the relief wells being drilled will need to bore to the bottom of the original well shaft that plunges 8,000 feet.

"SoCal Gas did not maintain their facility properly, leading to issues involving the health and safety of residents and the community at large," Matthew McNicholas, a lawyer who represents families displaced by the gas leak, told AFP. "They created the conditions allowing the well to fail, causing children and families to suffer."

The company believes it has located the source of the leak, according to the Los Angeles Times, but the only solution that remains is drilling the relief tunnel.

The Environmental Defense Fund's California oil and gas program director, Timothy O'Connor, told Mashable the gas leak should have been preventable with proper regulations.

A recent report in L.A. Weekly seems to back that claim. The well in question had not been inspected by the state since 1976, three years before SoCal Gas removed a malfunctioning subsurface safety valve that could have prevented the methane from leaking into the atmosphere.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Here are 3 times Donald Trump promised to fight for LGBTQ rights

“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

UK bans all new diesel and gasoline cars starting in 2040

Britain is pushing for a move to cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Thousands evacuated in French Riviera as wildfires break out along the coast

Fires are threatening the popular vacation destination.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Here are 3 times Donald Trump promised to fight for LGBTQ rights

“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

UK bans all new diesel and gasoline cars starting in 2040

Britain is pushing for a move to cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Thousands evacuated in French Riviera as wildfires break out along the coast

Fires are threatening the popular vacation destination.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.