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The biggest environmental disaster since the BP oil spill is occurring in California as we speak, forcing the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency, urging the evacuation of people in and around the Porter Ranch facility on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Gas is currently shooting up into the atmosphere at a very fast rate, to the point where it now accounts for about a quarter of the state’s total emissions of methane — and it’s a big state.

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The leak is occurring at a natural gas storage facility just outside of downtown Los Angeles, and engineers still don’t know what caused it. This is terrible, because as we have seen before with the BP oil spill and the disaster at Fukushima, unless responders can act quickly and know where to look to fix the problem, it could potentially continue for months, until the source  of the leak is found and repaired.

We are talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds of methane spewing into the air every single hour, for several months. According to the California Air Resources Board, methane has been coming out from the site of the leak (Aliso Canyon) with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption.”

Thousands of residents have already been evacuated.

According to Erin Brockovich:

Southern California Gas Co., or SoCalGas, has essentially ignored the impact to victims and its actions have instead added to their suffering. The company has refused to release air quality data that could be used to protect its residents, it has made relocation very difficult, and it has forged ahead with plans to expand its facility before the leak has even been contained.

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The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated. Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no sign of stopping. As the pressure from weight on top of the pipe causes the gas to diffuse, it only continues to dissipate across a wider and wider area. (source)

Gas is leaking from a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and is showing no sign of stopping. SoCalGas is unsure exactly how long it will take to fix the leak, but the company’s CEO has said it will be at least another three to four months. Yet, worryingly, the company is only offering three months of relocation to the few California residents fortunate enough to have even been given that option.

Despite all this, the BBC is reporting that “SoCal Gas insists the gas leaking from Aliso Canyon in the hills above the town does not pose an “imminent threat to public safety.’ “

Tim O’Connor, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, told the BBC:

In terms of timelines this is going to surpass the gulf oil problem by a mile. What we do know is that that climate equivalent of this leak is like burning thus far almost 700 million gallons of gasoline or it’s the same amount of pollution as 4.5 million cars put out every day, it’s tragic.

We really need to change our ways, and the power these corporations hold over governments is quite scary. For the sake of the planet they need to be removed and replaced. We have the solutions, yet so many barriers remain in the way implementation…

What’s the upside to this experience, and others like the BP oil spill? These events provide more and more people the chance to open their eyes, use their voice, and ‘wake-up,’ so to speak. It might be hard to see it this way, but I believe all experience can always serve the collective, in some sort of way, no matter what that experience is. Similiar to a ‘negative’ experience in your own life, it’s in the darkest of skies where we see the brightest stars…


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