The Porter Ranch Gas Leak occurred in a well at an underground storage facility in Aliso Canyon, California. The leak emitted a staggering 1 million barrels of gas into the atmosphere every day while it was unchecked. Located in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch, L.A., the Aliso Canyon facility is the 2nd largest of its kind in the U.S.
The Porter Ranch gas leak began on October 23, 2015 and said to be the worst in United States history, especially due to the massive environmental damage. According to authorities, up to 97,100 tons of methane and 7, 3000 tons of ethane was released into the atmosphere. Due to the destruction left behind by the leak, Jerry Brown, the Governor of L.A., declared a state of emergency on January 6, 2016.
The leak was detected on October 23, 2015, during a routine inspection of the gas storage facility. The residents of the nearby affluent Porter Ranch region reported a gas smell from a nearby home on the same day. By October 28th, the leak had spread from home to home with extreme effects.
Reportedly, the Porter Ranch gas leak was caused by a pipe in a breached 7-inch casing of the injection known as the Standard Sesnon 25. In 1979, the well’s safety valve was removed and never replaced because the well wasn’t considered critical. The Sesnon 25 is located only 300 feet from nearby homes. It is the failure of wellhead as well as gas flow through the casing that is thought to have triggered the Porter Ranch gas leak.
Effects on the Local Community
As expected, there was a myriad of gas leak side effects due to inhalations. The residents have since reported a variety of gas leak symptoms including:
- Severe nosebleeds (up to 50 children reported severe nosebleeds every day)
- Eye, throat, and ear infections.
As of December 25, 2015, an estimated 2,200 families living in the upscale neighborhood of Porter Ranch had been moved on a temporary basis as authorities monitor the situation. Another 2,500 were in the process of relocation. SoCal Gas, owners of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, had moved 11,296 residents temporarily as of January 7, 2016. Two schools have also been relocated.
Natural gas is made up of methane, a gas believed to have a global warming effect of up to 86% more than carbon dioxide. The initial amount of gas released by the Porter House gas leak is equivalent to effluvia released by 200,000 cars in a span of 12 months.
According to Time Magazine, there are more than 1 million barrels of methane released into the atmosphere each day. That is equivalent to emissions from 6 plants running on coal, 2.2 million cows, or 4.5 million cars. Steve Conley, an atmospheric scientist who measured the extent of the leak, said he doubted the readings of his instrument because the figures were unimaginable.
Latest Developments on Porter Ranch Gas Leak
SolCal Gas started making frantic efforts to stop further gas leaks by pumping mud and brine into the well on November 25, 2015. While they did not succeed in stopping the gas leaks, it was reported that the well was finally plugged on February 18, 2016.
Currently, SolCal Gas says it is in the process of compensating those who were affected by the Porter Ranch gas leak. While the process of compensation has not been agreed on as of yet, SolCal released a press statement saying that it is working around the clock to respond to every resident’s inquiry regarding compensation. As of March 3, 2016, the company had already approved and processed reimbursements for 17,000 inhabitants, amounting to $36 million.