The single biggest contributor to climate change in California is a blown-out natural gas well more than 8,700ft underground – state authorities and campaign groups said Monday.
The broken well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site has released more than 77,000 metric tons of the powerful climate pollutant methane since the rupture was first detected on 23 October – according to a counter created by the Environmental Defense Fund.
Methane is a fast-acting climate pollutant – more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.
Experts believe the breach which has forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents from the town of Porter Ranch is the largest ever in the US.
Locals have complained of headaches – sore throats – nosebleeds and nausea caused by the rotten-egg smell of the odorant added to the gas to aid leak detection by SoCalGas – the utility that operates the natural gas storage site.
About 1,000 people are suing the company.
There are also concerns about the leak’s effect on smog and ozone.
The company said it was monitoring air quality.
The leak is unlikely to be brought under control before late February – and even that timetable depends on work crews’ success in locating and plugging a 7-inch pipe deep underground.