Facts About Aliso Canyon
What happened at Aliso Canyon?
On Oct. 23, 2015, a natural gas storage well operated by SoCal Gas near Los Angeles, California, sprung a massive leak hundreds of feet underground. The leak continued for months, at its peak releasing nearly 1,400 tons of natural gas into the air each day. After many unsuccessful attempts to plug the blowout, the leak was finally sealed on February 11, 2016. Aliso Canyon supplies 60% of the gas used by Southern California Gas’s 5.6 million residential customers, 215,000 commercial and industrial users, and 52 electric power plants.
What caused the leak?
The blowout occurred through a breach in the well approximately 400 feet below the surface. The facility is almost 64 years old.
How big was the leak?
97,100 metric tons of methane, a powerful climate pollutant, leaked at Aliso Canyon between October, 2015 and February, 2016. The methane that leaked from the compromised Aliso Canyon storage well was the climate equivalent of burning nearly one billion gallons of gasoline. The leak had the same impact on the climate as releasing 8,156,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or putting 1,735,404 more cars on the road for a year.
What about health impacts?
Where methane is released into the atmosphere as part of natural gas, toxic pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene are also released. Symptoms such as rashes, nosebleeds, headaches, vomiting, nausea, skin irritation and respiratory problems were experienced by the residents of Porter Ranch and the surrounding region during the Aliso Canyon blowout. Some of the compounds released into the air at Aliso Canyon included benzene, a known carcinogen; hydrogen sulfide, which can affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems; and n-hexane, a neurotoxin.
How did California respond?
Because there are no rules requiring leak and safety inspections for oil and gas facilities, and the oil and gas industry has shown it can’t be trusted to fix the problem on its own, California took action. In May, 2016, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposed an important new rule that will reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations. When finalized, it will give California one of the most comprehensive methane pollution standards in the country.
How should the nation respond?
The Aliso Canyon blowout was huge; but there are smaller and even more prevalent leaks happening everyday throughout the country’s oil and gas operations. Those emissions add up to more than 7 million metric tons of methane pollution every year. That’s why it’s so important we tackle methane pollution on a federal level.
Aliso Canyon by the Numbers
How many days was the Aliso Canyon blowout?
The blowout lasted for more than 100 days after it was discovered on Oct. 23, 2016
How much pollution was emitted by the blowout?
97,100 metric tons of methane, a powerful climate pollutant, leaked into the atmosphere from the Aliso Canyon gas leak. That is equivalent to the emissions of 1,735,404 cars in one year. Methane has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.
What was the age of the well that was leaking?
The failed well at Aliso Canyon was 63 years old. A broken safety valve was removed by Southern California Gas Company in 1979 and had never since been replaced.
How many families had to evacuate and relocate?
The disaster drove more than 15,000 residents from their homes.
How many people felt ill?
Residents from 600 households near the blowout reported headaches, nosebleeds, nausea and other symptoms to county officials.
How many different types of symptoms were experienced by the community?
Dozens. Some of those symptoms include rashes, nosebleeds, headaches, vomiting, nausea, skin irritations and respiratory problems. The troublesome chemicals emitted include benzene, a known carcinogen; hydrogen sulfide, which can affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems; and n-hexane, a neurotoxin.
What was the cost of the disaster?
As of August 2016, costs reached over $717 million and counting.
How much pollution does California’s oil and gas industry emit?
California’s oil and gas industry emitted approximately 270, 000 tons of methane in 2014. This is nearly three times the methane as was released by the Aliso Canyon disaster. This wasted natural gas is worth over $50 million and can meet the heating and cooking needs of about 400,000 homes in the state.
What is the solution?
We need a comprehensive approach to addressing methane pollution. One promising strategy comes from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB’s proposed rules are projected to cut methane emissions from oil and gas facilities 40-45% BY 2025 This is the equivalent of taking 111,000 cars off the road. The rule will also reduce 3,627 tons of volatile organic compounds per year and reduce over 100 tons of cancer-causing compounds such as benzene and
toluene. This will give California one of the most comprehensive methane pollution standards in the country.