What does a catastrophic gas leak in Southern California tell us about what’s going on across the country? Regulation of gas storage sites is completely, frighteningly inadequate.
10 Things You Should Know About Natural Gas Leaks And Storage Sites
1. There are more than 400 underground natural gas storage sites in 31 states. A storage site can contain hundreds of wells.
2. The biggest storage facility is in Montana.
3. Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana all store more natural gas underground than California.
4. Many of the storage tanks are decades old, and equipment is decaying.
5. Most people do not know they are living near underground storage facilities, or on top of major gas pipelines.
6. Storage tanks contain trillions of cubic feet of potentially explosive fuel—in Kansas, in 2001, a gas explosion destroyed half a city block and killed two people. In 2004 a leak in Houston shot flames 1000 feet into the air.
7. Inspections at storage facilities are lax, if not laughable. Ohio requires visual inspections. But natural gas is invisible to the naked eye.
8. At Aliso Canyon, the well that failed is 63 years old. It is one of more than 100 wells at the site and one of tens of thousands of similar wells at storage units across the country. Southern California Gas last inspected the leaking well in 1976.
9. Natural gas, mainly methane, is a powerful contributor to climate disruption.
10. Along with methane, natural gas contains poisons like benzene and toluene among other things—linked to cancer, and harmful to developing fetuses.