Written by Clare Czolgosz, ESLLC 2015-2016
Last month on December 15, 2015 LiveScience posted an article about a methane leak in Southern California. The company which is responsible for the leak has tried to keep quiet about the severity. The negative environmental impacts caused by methane are harsh and long lasting. Although there are instances where methane is produced naturally in oceans but locked in the seafloor and remains stable; California commonly does not have naturally occurring methane and receive shipments from out of state. They store the excess methane underground which is where the leak is originating from. The leak is coming from the largest methane reserve in the U.S..
Since the leak started on October 23 over 150 million pounds have leaked into our environment. Scientists are monitoring the leak by using infrared cameras to track the movement of Methane. The reason this Methane leak is such an environmental hazard is due to the fact it is a greenhouse gas similar to CO2. Yet, on a pound for pound basis Methane can be 25 more times damaging than Carbon Dioxide. Once Methane enters the atmosphere it can take up to 12 years to break down. This methane leak is in the running for California’s worst methane leak in history.
Methane is naturally odorless the exception being when used in homes when an odorant is added to make any leaks known. In serious cases prolonged Methane exposure can cause blackouts and deaths. More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. This kind of leak is deadly on more than just one level. As a whole people need to stick together in order to create a safer environment for not just ourselves but also for nature. It is not ok for a company to have a leak this great and have the ability to downplay the impact on the world around them. Awareness is just the first step in creating a world that is healthier and livable for future generations.