Jan 14, 2016

The LA Gas Leak Is Scarier Than We Thought

Posted by in categories: energy, habitats

Since a gas leak erupted outside LA on October 23rd, over 83,000 metric tons of methane have escaped to the atmosphere, prompting public officials to evacuate the neighboring community of Porter Ranch. But as a disturbing new analysis shows, a much broader swath of LA is now drowning in methane.

The Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) is a Cambridge-based nonprofit that’s been shedding light on leaky natural gas infrastructure for years. Last week, HEET sent Boston University Professor Nathan Phillips and Bob Ackley of Gas Safety out to LA to measure pollution in the air surrounding Porter Ranch.

Armed with a laser gas analyzer that can sniff out airborne methane with parts-per-billion precision, Phillips and Ackley drove around the LA area measuring methane concentrations for a period of five days. Every time their analyzer detected elevated gas levels, it plotted the numbers to Google Earth. The red bars on their maps indicate where they drove, with higher bars corresponding to higher methane concentrations.

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