California declared state of emergency in Los Angeles after methane gas leak

Jan 7, 2016 14:14 IST

California Governor Jerry Brown on 6 January 2016 declared a state of emergency over a methane gas on the outskirts of Los Angeles County. Governor ordered that all necessary and viable actions be taken to stop it.

The leak happened at the Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon storage field in Porter Ranch of Los Angeles on 23 October 2015. The incident led to displacement of thousands of families and as per reports many of them is feeling ill.

Gas is spewing into the atmosphere at a rate so fast that the well now accounts for about a quarter of the state's total emissions of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. According to an estimate by the Environmental Defense Fund, at least 62 million cubic feet of methane is being leaked into the air daily.

Earlier in December 2015, a city court of Los Angeles asked the company to provide housing for thousands of Porter Ranch residents. The order was intended to provide relief to more than 2000 families waiting to be relocated since the incident was noticed.

The gas well drilled in 1953 and designed with a sub-surface safety valve over 8000 feet underground is situated in a mountainous area.

Methane (CH4) gas is a very strong greenhouse gas, capable of trapping solar radiation in the atmosphere. It is the simplest alkane and the main component of natural gas. It belongs to a category of gases called short-lived climate pollutants but are capable of heating the atmosphere by tens, hundreds or even thousands of times greater than that of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

Methane was first scientifically identified in November 1776 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in the marshes of Lake Maggiore straddling Italy and Switzerland.

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