Since Late October, a leak at a Southern California Gas Company facility in the Santa Susana Mountains has been spewing an incredible amount of methane gas, and the gas has been wafting into the nearby, wealthy Porter Ranch neighborhood, causing problems ranging from headaches to nosebleeds. SoCal Gas says it'll take weeks at least to fix the leak, and meanwhile they've relocated hundreds of people. To help people get a better idea of how dire the situation is, a cameraman working for environmental nonprofit Earthworks has captured images of a cloud of methane leaking from the Gas Company's Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site and crawling over the hills in the area. Armed with a "forward looking infrared camera calibrated to detect gases," the cameraman was able to make the gas—normally invisible to video as well as the naked eye—visible, says KPCC.
"Making things visible makes it real to people who can do something about the problem," the filmmaker said. He and another environmentalist filmed the short video just outside the Aliso Canyon storage site.
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.
· Watch: Infrared video shows Porter Ranch leak spew 50,000 kilograms of methane per hour [SCPR]
· SoCalGas Aliso Canyon, CA 1min [Youtube]
· An Insane Amount of Natural Gas is Leaking Into the Valley's Porter Ranch Neighborhood [Curbed LA]
· Gas Company Basically Wants to Febreeze the Enormous Methane Leak in the Valley [Curbed LA]