Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Something Rotten Leaking in California
The above video is an infrared image of the plume of methane leaking from the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, which was discovered in late October and has been spewing 110K lbs of methane per hour, making the worst environmental disaster in the US since 2010's BP oil spill. The leak smells because of mercaptan, which has a rotten-egg odor and can cause nausea and dizziness, causing thousands of people to evacuate the area. There are apparently several difficulties in capping the leak, which can make it take at least three more months to be resolved.
Methane is a particularly active greenhouse gas, which makes this mess pretty troubling--but you know me, I can always envision something worse. As you all know, California has been having a serious drought, causing aquifers of groundwater to be pumped like mad. What's less discussed is the way this is causing ground subsidence--in other words, California is sinking. This is causing some infrastructure to break down--which can include pipelines.
It's the same kind of infrastructure damage that I wonder about regarding the connection between fracking and earthquakes. It's not reassuring, the things I think about.