Porter Ranch Gas Disaster

The Leak: The largest natural gas leak ever recorded happened Oct. to Feb. 2015 in a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles. The leak was from an old oil well being used to store natural gas under high pressure.  It is the largest natural gas storage facility west of the Mississippi.

A pipe inside the well cracked and so much gas was gushing out:

• It was increasing California’s emissions by 25%
• 10,000 local residents were evacuated, up to 5 miles away from the leak
• Planes weren’t allowed overhead for fear they’d blow up

The Researchers: Boston University Professor Nathan Phillips and Bob Ackley of Gas Safety drove a high precision GIS-enabled natural gas analyzer down the roads around the gas leak (Jan. 8th to 13th, 2016) to create the video above. The red shows where they drove.  The level of natural gas is shown by the height of the peaks.  Where the gas spreads depends enormously on the direction and speed of the wind.  These are just a few snapshots in time of the gas (see more images).

Phillips and Ackley are experts in natural gas analysis, having mapped the gas leaks in numerous cities such as Washington (DC), Boston, Cincinnati and Manhattan. They will post their data soon, making everything open source for researchers and reporters.

Early Results: So far, the early results show natural gas levels are elevate 2 to 67 times the background level found in the area. Local residents complained of nausea, headaches and nosebleeds.  No one knows if there will be long term health effects from the volatile organic chemicals found in the gas.  There is conflicting information on the subject.

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