Methane leak in Los Angeles continues

A damaged well below the surface at the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility leaks methane in Los Angeles.
Wikimedia Commons/Earthworks


A massive leak at a natural gas storage facility near the Porter Ranch community in Los Angeles has emitted 150 million pounds, or 72,000 metric tons, of methane since Oct. 23 according to infrared tracking reports from the Environmental Defense Fund. This accounts for roughly 25 percent of California’s emissions in 2015 and several reports are calling the methane leak the nation’s largest environmental disaster since the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The leak is coming from a damaged well below the surface at the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility. The facility is run by the Southern California Gas Company and most recent estimates say that work crews won’t be able to plug the leak until late February or early March. Methane is a known greenhouse gas and traps heat at a rate of 20 to 100 times greater than carbon dioxide.

The site was originally home to oil production starting in the late 1930s. In the early ’70s, the Southern California Gas Company began storing natural gas around the site. Today there are approximately 115 storage wells providing gas to roughly 22 million customers across the Los Angeles Basin. The natural gas is mostly piped in from Texas, Colorado and other places and the leak is not associated with California natural gas reserves.

Thousands of families have been relocated due to the leak and two schools have been closed, The Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles City Attorney has filed suit against the gas company, stating it failed to immediately report the leak and is not adequately equipped to contain it. The City also alleges the leak will significantly add to global warming and increase its burden on residents of Los Angeles. Porter Ranch residents are also suing the company for negligence.