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Enormity of Billowing Methane Plume in California 'Cannot Be Overstated'


Enormity of Billowing Methane Plume in California 'Cannot Be Overstated'

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

The toxic methane cloud that has been "billowing" for months over an underground natural gas reservoir near the affluent community of Porter Ranch just north of Los Angeles illustrates "gaping vulnerabilities" in oversight and enforcement of greenhouse gas pollution rules, a California newspaper editorial board declared this week.


This also a symptom of failing infrastructure .

Many of these pipes were put in 40 years ago plus and as in Detroit with the water system are failing , Corporations that own this infrastructure do not find replacing the same as "cost effective" as they would rather see share prices inflate or pay out higher dividends to stockholders to better satisfy the all encompassing "return on investment" crowd.

Investing in new infrastructure takes from that so there much more incentive just to patch what is already in place. In order to avoid lawsuits or fines the same groups then lobby Governments to relax regulations under the mantra that "it an extra cost of doing business and a job killer". The Koch brothers and others lobby for immunity from prosecution for this "investor class" claiming it discourages job creation if a person can be fined or prosecuted for contaminating a watershed or poisoning the air.

In short, what must be recognized is that this a SYSTEMIC problem with Capitalism, the extractive for profit economy , and the entirety of the commons being monetized and privatized for the sake of profits. It not going away anytime soon and as more of those same pipelines fail across the US and in other Countries fail , the more such incidents that will occur.


A likely result of the subversion of our so-called "regulatory" agencies and the revolving door of industry shills appointed to such agencies then back to the industry thay were supposed to regulate. The corrosive influence of big-money and profits as the end-all and be-all of vulture capitalsim is corrupting and/or destroying damn near everything.

The most critical "regulatory" body meeting was just a dog & pony show in Paris - it was a clear example of the corruption of regulation on its most basic level and a fraud - just more window dressing for business as usual.


Storing liquefied natural gas (yes, they're building an LNG liquefaction facility at Aliso Canyon) near a population center is a definition of incredibly stupid engineering. If FERC can imagine storing an atomic weapon a bit too close to the Department of Energy headquarters, maybe they'd get the picture. Sure, the bomb is guaranteed to never go off, but if it did...

In urban Cleveland in 1939, a liquefied natural gas explosion leveled one square mile of city. The city was fortunate that only 135 people were killed. Many people ran in terror after the first small explosion, and school hadn't gotten out yet. LNG is extremely nasty stuff and the fireball explodes in the multi-kiloton range.


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Holy Freaking Mother of Mayhem, are you kidding me? A methane leak of this enormity is a top climate emergency.
At the very least it should be converted to a flare until it can be shut off! CH4 is 72x worse than CO2. From Wikipedia (please donate generously, I do): "For example, the direct radiative effect of a mass of methane is about 72 times stronger than the same mass of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame[20] but it is present in much smaller concentrations so that its total direct radiative effect is smaller, in part due to its shorter atmospheric lifetime. On the other hand, in addition to its direct radiative impact, methane has a large, indirect radiative effect because it contributes to ozone formation!" (Emphasis mine, but come on! Can you blame me?) I mean, we're supposedly a smart species, so let's not be dumb! Let's set up a stainless steel pipe cooling jacket around it to shield people and capture the heat off the flare to make electricity or heat homes. Or how about we get GE to ship a large vertical gas turbine out there and we directly fuel it with that NG and pump that energy back into the grid instead of continuing to allow it to POISON our atmosphere?!!


yes, well, people simply do not matter. despite the lame lip service from corporations and government and the like. profit does and it's the first --and really only commandment--so I would venture to say it's not due to stupidity; more like little regard for life, as we continue to see elsewhere with increasing regularity.


I sometimes wonder if Mother Nature isn't getting a bit tired of how long it is taking for Homo Sapiens to self destruct, using its do-it-yourself kit, and join the dinosaurs. Perhaps She has decided to help it along.


The best option is to level the land around the opening and place a collection chamber and funnell the gas into a generator unit so to generate electric for local community providing a win win situation for all parties involved. .. Just a thought. :-)


I sure wish journalists could provide a technically correct description of what is going on. Why do they have such an aversion to technical things? It is not a broken "pipe", it is a broken well casing - and the gas is leaking up between the casing and borehole, or up fractures in the rock near the hole. I suspect that ground subsidence from water table-lowering from the drought may have caused the casing to buckle and break.

At any rate, I don't see why they have taken so long to find and characterize the leak and nor should it take three months to drill the relief/plugging well to stop it.

Edit: Checking the links, Califronia DOGGR perfectly transparent in providing a wealth of technical informaiton, but the SoCalGas's public information page on this well has been taken down. No doubt the company lawyers probably did this after Erin Brokovitch took the case.


And in Flint, the Michigan governor has apologized for knowing
that lead was/is contaminating the water there.

A possible way to view your scenario is that we are committing protracted suicide.


Mysterious. Perhaps (as others have pointed) it's just not cost-effective.
This is knowingly affecting the health of thousands of residents.
Turns out, it's not illegal and they can take their time.


Holy Cow how is this going to get under controll? Is there a solution?Why is nobody doing anything about this emergency?


P.S. This link is in reference to water in Flint.


Fracking is the equivalent of poisoning our own wells. If someone came along and offered you money to poison your own drinking water would you take it?

Try that scenario except that we pay them (through tax payer funded subsidies) to poison our drinking water.

Now there's a deal huh?


So, why doesn't CA start imposing daily fines of say $500,000.00? Farmers get fined if they pollute ground water, why is this different? I suspect if it cost them enough they might find a way to close off the well rather quickly. I don't think "whenever you can get around to it" is good enough.


Thanks for your explanation...makes sense...but the fact it is still leaking does not.


Why do you try so hard to sound stupid? The point of the title ... is to show that it IS very serious.... too serious... doesn't this leak mean anything to you? ...


This Government doesn't have the financial or political will to "Regulate" these ubber wealthy Industries-
Only when these 50+ year old gas mains start exploding in and around Washington D.C. with these "captured" Politicians become concerned- Only when it is A direct threat to them and their Bank Accounts will they become at all concerned- Until then, screw everyone else and screw this Earth also- What A pathetic Country we have become...........................


Damn you aren't funny.