Kyle Richardson | Staff Writer
When asking around campus, most students had no idea where Aliso Canyon or Porter Ranch was. Also, many didn’t know what methane gas was.
“Methane is a gas that is found in the earth and rises with pressure from the atmosphere,” said student Cooper Jameson.
That is exactly what is happening at Southern California’s Gas Co. Aliso Canyon gas storage, where at 3,600 acres, it is Southern California’s largest gas reserve, according to U.S. News.
The gas storage, located just north of Northridge, has been leaking gas since Nov. 26, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In the beginning, 58,000 kilograms of methane gas was leaking per hour, back on Nov. 28. Recently, on Jan. 22, that number was reduced to 18,400 kilograms per hour, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The leak has caused thousands of Porter Ranch residents to evacuate the surrounding area.
“My understanding is that the smell (and therefore overall toxicity of the gas) is bad. I don’t know what the concentrations are, but if any build up occurs to high enough concentrations in pockets or areas, you also have an explosion or fire hazard,” stated Brett Stanley, CSUSB Chemistry Department Chair.
The methane leak is more of a hazard risk to the residents than a health risk.
“The methane isn’t particularly toxic, but other gases such as hydrogen sulfide or methyl mercaptan that may be present are (these are the ones that smell and can actually make you feel sick after a while). Some tests have also detected benzene in the gas, which is a carcinogen,” added Stanley.
Residents have complained of headaches, nausea and other health maladies.
A cause of the gas leak has not been determined yet, as there will not be an answer until the leak is stopped.
There has been efforts to stop the leak, as the Southern California Gas Co. initially planned to light the leak and burn off the methane, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Though, this plan was done away with when scientists revealed that this would be unsafe and could cause an explosion in the well.
Crews have been drilling a relief well next to the damaged well to seal off the leak. Although, it will not be completed until late February, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While the gas leak has been ongoing since late November, levels of methane gas have permeated down the coast to Orange County and the San Clemente Islands.
In the United States, natural gas leaks from thousands of locations, daily.
The Aliso Canyon gas leak is just 1 percent of the natural gas contribution to the national emissions, according to U.S. News.
The California Public Utilities Commission is looking to possibly shut down the Aliso Canyon gas storage.
The commission is looking to the Southern California Gas Co. to look for other storage fields to supply the Southern California areas. Though, the 3,600 acre gas storage shutting down would press other smaller gas storages to make up for the loss, according to the Los Angeles Times.