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What we’ve learned from largest methane gas leak in the U.S.

What we’ve learned from largest methane gas leak in the U.S. thumbnail

Invisible disaster: Infrared images from the Environmental Defense Fund show a huge plume spewing from the ground.

Two years ago today, the largest U.S. methane leak was discovered. The leak in northwest Los Angeles County focused attention on the state’s aging gas wells.

Disaster snapshot

The leaky well was one of 115 wells connected to a subsurface storage reservoir in the Aliso Canyon gas field. The field has been used for natural gas storage since 1973 and is the fourth largest facility of its kind in the U.S.


Approximate home evacuations to date


Days since gas leak was reported until it was stopped


Number of Aliso Canyon wells drilled before 1953

109,000 metric tons
Estimated number of tons of methane leaked. Considered a large environmental disaster due to harmful emissions.

Very small
The risk of health effects to those exposed to the gas leak, according to the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Scale of the leaking

Hydrocarbon leak rate, in metric tons per hour

Ton per minute of methane

Total methane released over time in metric tons

total methan leakedThen and now

What the SoCalGas well was like that leaked on the left and what they are doing to increase safety on the right. New elements in bold.

New well elementsMost used fuel in California

Natural gas is used to generate electricity as well as to heat people’s homes. In 2013, 64.4 percent of the homes in California used natural gas, compared with 48.3 percent nationwide.

Natural gas usedThe latest events

A look at some notable events this year regarding the gas leak:
Feb. 8: The Southern California Gas Co. agrees to pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by air quality regulators in 2016.

February: A Porter Ranch physician says a pattern of health symptoms emerged among the almost 50 patients he’s followed since the 2015 gas leak. He hoped other doctors in the area, as well as outside researchers, would collaborate with him on a long-term study.

July: James Mansdorfer, who was formerly responsible for managing SoCalGas’ storage wells and reservoirs, told state regulators he was concerned that movement on the Santa Susana fault would “almost surely sever the casing” and tubing of every gas well at Aliso Canyon, “resulting in release of gas at a rate of 100 to 1,000 times the rate of the SS25 leak.”

July 29: A state appeals court lifts a temporary hold on injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, overriding the concerns of Los Angeles County and clearing the way for the Southern California Gas Co. to resume injections there.

July 31: Despite concerns raised by residents and Los Angeles County leaders, SoCalGas resumes natural gas injections at Aliso Canyon wells. The company has completed all safety measures to do so.

August: Nearby residents say they are bracing themselves for the worst after SoCalGas announced that it had “started the process to resume limited injection operations” after approval from state gas and utility regulators and days of legal wrangling with Los Angeles County.

Oct. 14: High levels of uranium, lithium and a synthetic chemical used to make plastics were present in the urine and hair samples of residents who live near the natural gas leak, according to results released by a local physician.

Sources: EPA; California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Energy Information Administration; Environmental Defense Fund; Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources; California Air Resources Board; Southern California Gas Co.

the OCR

65 Comments on "What we’ve learned from largest methane gas leak in the U.S."

  1. Davy on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 10:01 am 

    Clog, put the words with the links or you are being intellectually dishonest. Quit masking your lack of supporting material by open ended linking with your own personal opinions. You are masquerading as an expert. Clogged mind is a fraud.

  2. Boat on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 11:05 am 


    I spent my teens and early 20’s in the Vietnam era. The US was much more divided and violent then than now. Trust in government was bad then as now.
    You say “only an incoherent populace, where the elites, or elite-wannabees like Davy, are only concerned with money and global power”
    If that were true then why is the US losing market share in the global market place. Could it be we are just more interested in sports? A far as Davy is concerned raising goats will not increase the US global power much.

  3. Boat on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 11:33 am 

    clog, mak,,

    Bill Gates, the vaccine king, recently announced that very soon polio would be eradicated from the globe.

    Fourteen billionaires announced they have signed the Giving Pledge, formally joining the 154 other billionaires who have promised to give away at least half of their vast wealth to philanthropic causes.

    Started in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates, worth $88.5 billion, and Warren Buffett, worth $74.2 billion, the Giving Pledge is a commitment by wealthy individuals and families to give away more than half of their wealth to causes including including poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform and environmental sustainability.

    Money and global power seem to take a back seat for at least 165 billionaires. Did you notice supporting hate and racism was not included in the plan? One wonders how much of that money will go to displace cheeeto with his alt right agenda.

  4. Cloggie on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 11:35 am 

    I spent my teens and early 20’s in the Vietnam era.

    So you must be from ca 1948, that’s older than expected.

    You say “only an incoherent populace, where the elites, or elite-wannabees like Davy, are only concerned with money and global power”
    If that were true then why is the US losing market share in the global market place.

    Because there is a big divide between wanting and actually achieving something.

    Could it be we are just more interested in sports?

    The population yes, Washington not so much.

    To illustrate that, in the run-up to the 2016 election, Dutch television send a anchor-woman to the US and make a road-trip documentary through several US states.

    The anchor-woman, Eva Jinek, was born in Oklahoma (“proud to be an Oki”) and of Czech ethnicity, but here parents decided when she was 10 that they wanted to give here a European upbringing and since moving to Czecho-Slovakia was not an option, they went to Holland.

    She drove from West to East and made six episodes, glued together in this 4h video:

    Most is interviewing ordinary citizens, obviously in English, commented and talked together in Dutch (LA, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, South-Carolina, Washington).

    If I remember one thing is that most people were VERY distrusting towards Washington, Reps and Dems alike and a general feeling of decline and pessimism about the future.

  5. Cloggie on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 11:52 am

    44:40 – 53:50

    The typical freedom-loving, reading, American prepper, deeply distrusting government.

  6. fmr-paultard on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 12:17 pm 

    dear eurotard. they’re just the extreme wing of the right like the bernie opposite.

    the dems have strict electoral rules to prevent bernie people from taking over, not so much for the gop

    i was a paulard so i know. it only takes 3 states to be eligible for nomination at the convention and virgin islands is counted.

    your SENTAPs supremacist exstermist nazi antisemtic prechers media is dead. there’s a real risk of being bumpskied.

    nice try though

  7. Boat on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 1:14 pm 


    I have little interest in those types of video. You can find a large array of opinions on most issues with little effort.

  8. DerHundistlos on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 2:18 pm 

    “I spent my teens and early 20’s in the Vietnam era. The US was much more divided and violent then than now. Trust in government was bad then as now.”

    Facts, Boat, to support your opinion.

    “Started in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates, worth $88.5 billion, and Warren Buffett, worth $74.2 billion, the Giving Pledge is a commitment by wealthy individuals and families to give away more than half of their wealth.”

    BFD, instead of owning the equivalent of the combined wealth of the bottom 53% of Americans, they will own just 26.5%. Amazing generosity. I just hope this does not cut down on nthe number of Ilyushin flights Melinda makes to Africa in the Gates’ home in the sky.

  9. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 2:34 pm 

    Peak lying and corruption?

    Shipping executive: ‘We have deliberately misled public on climate’
    Published on 26/10/2017, 12:30pm

    Cosco UK deputy general manager said industry lobbyists at the UN were ‘prostitutes employed by our racket to try and put one over on the general public’

    I don’t know, perhaps there is still room, but I do not trust anything any authority, corporate-government-NGO’s, without fact checking which I’m too busy to do anymore and I don’t care – I’m expecting it. It fits the pattern of behaviour in all other collapses.

    If I was to make up a list of official lying and malfeasance of just the last decade and compare it to the other 4 decades in my life it would surely blow them all away. I just read a short bit the other day about a Japanese steel firm that, many big global manufactures buy from, has been lying about the quality of their steel for decades. It’s in many product and obviously consumer safety is one of the issues. I would not be surprised to learn of many injuries and deaths because of their lies.

  10. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 3:13 pm 

    Southern California stews in the most extreme heat the nation has seen so late in the year

    “A mere week before the calendar flips to November, temperatures in cities and towns across Southern California surged to unthinkable levels — on the verge of 110 degrees.

    Not one but two locations hit 108 on Tuesday — matching the hottest weather observed on record in the United States so late in the calendar year.

    According to the National Weather Service, both Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (formerly known as Miramar Naval Air Station, about 15 miles northeast of San Diego) and San Luis Obispo topped out at 108 degrees.

    Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist based in Alaska, tweeted that the 108-degree reading tied the previous hottest temperature set so late — at Indio Fire Station, Calif., on the same date in 1959.

    This weather record was overshadowed by searing heat in Los Angeles, where the hottest postseason game in Major League Baseball history was played Tuesday evening. The first-pitch temperature for Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium was a blistering 103 degrees.”

    “Vista, which hit 107, breaking the record of 96 set in 1965.

    Long Beach Airport, which hit 105, breaking the record of 98 set in 1965.

    Los Angeles International Airport, which hit 104, breaking the record of 96 set in 1965.

    Santa Ana, which hit 104, breaking the record of 98 in 1965.

    San Diego, which hit 97, breaking the record of 94 from 1965.

    Newport Beach, which hit 92, breaking the record of 85 from 1965.

    These temperatures were about 20 to 30 degrees above normal.”

    And the deniers keep on denying and the majority, who get it to varying degrees, remain silent. If this continues in a decade or two the US will be a flooded out smoking ruin. Can’t stop what’s coming and no country will give up burning liquid fuels, but countries could still prepare (see the Dutch) and spend tax money to move some people and protect others. BUT, conservatard deniers would have to admit they were wrong wrong wrong and many of them would rather see their families and country burn and flood then admit their precious prefabricated belief system was wrong. Oh hell ya, the grip of belief is astoundingly powerful & stubborn. I’m a history buff and the pages are full of humans who were willing to die and kill for their beliefs – which were all made up by a handful of humans BTW. All the gods, politics, economics, religions, countries, all made up by or on behalf of some power hungry dudes looking to legitimize their rule and authority. Indeed many commoners who became believers benefited and sometimes for generations, but many died when circumstances changed and they could not or would not change. Evolution is all about change, about adapting to this worlds ever shifting environment and it applies to human societies as well. Those who adapt will survive. No need to be the fittest, just somewhat fit is good enough and the willingness and ability to adapt.

  11. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 3:24 pm 

    U.S. Navy gets it.

    Rising Seas Are Flooding Virginia’s Naval Base, and There’s No Plan to Fix It

    The giant naval base at Norfolk is under threat by rising seas and sinking land, but little is being done to hold back the tides.

    “Yet when a big storm hits or the tides surge, the land surrounding it floods. Even on a sunny day this spring, with the tide out, the field beside the firehouse was filled with water.

    “It’s not supposed to be a pond,” said Joe Bouchard, a retired captain and former base commander. “It is now.”

    “These guys are in a whole heap ton of trouble,” said retired Rear Adm. David Titley. Before he joined Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, Titley served as the Navy’s oceanographer and navigator and led its Climate Change Task Force. “I think Norfolk is, in the long term, fighting for its existence, its very existence,” Titley said. “And this is the part of climate change that I don’t think most Americans have really come to grips with—that virtually every coastal city is in a fight for its existence. They just don’t know it yet.”

  12. makati1 on Thu, 26th Oct 2017 5:43 pm 

    Ap, “No need to be the fittest, just somewhat fit is good enough and the willingness and ability to adapt.”

    Right on! to use an old phrase. I fine adapting to be a new challenge at this point in my life. It keeps me busy and sharpens my mind. We have passed the point of no return decades ago.

    With all of the things happening in the world, it is a race to see what finally kills us all off. Will it be Mother Nature? Nukes? Or a combination of both? We shall see.

  13. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Oct 2017 8:04 pm 

    Trump signs $36.5 billion emergency aid bill for Puerto Rico, other flooding disasters

    “To date, Congress has approved more than $50 billion in disaster aid this fall but more money will be needed. The states and Puerto Rico continue to assess the damage from an onslaught of damaging storms.”

    Cha-Ching Cha-Ching Cha-Ching Cha-Ching

  14. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Oct 2017 8:16 pm 

    PG&E pushing for ratepayers to pay millions in California wildfire costs

    “Fearing billions of dollars in future liability, PG&E has been aggressively urging state regulators to make it easier for the company to charge ratepayers — rather than its shareholders — when its power lines and other electrical equipment cause wildfires.”

    “PG&E and the other utilities are very vigorously lobbying to see that the costs of disasters be covered by ratepayers, even when they are found negligent,” said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group.

    “The shareholders benefit when the company does well,” he said. “They have to pay when the company doesn’t do well.”

    They did not “cause” the fire. They may have ignited it and should be forced to take resposibility for that, but the causes are many and almost all are consequences of human behaviour and greed. AGW Jacked it and politicians and regulators let developers (cancer boosters) have a free pass and the home buyers paid no heed to the oldest rule, caveat emptor. Pretty much everyone is responsible to varying degrees. Some are even criminals. It’s the same as all the reward seeking, growth obsessed humans predicaments only on a smaller scale.

  15. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Oct 2017 8:18 pm 

    Paso sets another heat record — the fifth in SLO County this week

    What are the odds?

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