Huge natural gas leak in CA has the impact of burning 300 million gallons of gasoline by Cat DiStasio, November 24, 2015, inhabitat
In California, where the environment is already endangered by severe drought, a natural gas leak has quietly released enough methane to create as much impact on the atmosphere as up to 2.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The California Air Resources Board issued a statement this week containing that estimate, which comes one month after the initial leak was reported. The size and extent of the leak is enormous, and the 20-year warming impact is said to exceed that of all the state’s oil refineries combined, or of burning 300 million gallons of gasoline.
The leak was first discovered at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23. Initially, the utility company tried plugging the leaky pipe casing, which was a few hundred feet below the well’s surface. The attempt failed, so the repair will require a hefty construction job involving drilling a separate ‘relief well’ to reach the source of the leak. It will end up taking months to complete.
The statement issued by the California Air Resources Board reports that, from October 23 to November 20, the Aliso Canyon gas leak pumped 50,000 kilograms of methane into the air every hour.
The gas emanating from the leak adds up to one-quarter of the total methane emissions in all of California. The agency also found that 0.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide has leaked from the site, which is the equivalent of driving 160,000 cars for a year or consuming 90 million gallons of gasoline.
In addition to the long-term impact on global warming, the leak is having an immediate impact on local residents. Methane has been detected in the Porter Ranch neighborhood in the affluent San Fernando Valley, which had previously been known for having some of the cleanest air in the city. For the past several weeks, residents there have reported a variety of ailments, including headaches, nosebleeds, and nausea. Until the leak is fully repaired, the air quality in the area will continue to suffer, so it may be several months before it returns to normal. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that at least 30 families have been relocated, and protesters are calling for county leaders to investigate the leak.
As of November 26, 2015
If you feel you have suffered harm or injury as a result of this incident, please complete this online form or call us at 213-244-5151 and one of our claims processors will help you. For residents in neighboring communities who wish to relocate, we are providing free, temporary housing accommodations, including locations that can accommodate residents with disabilities and people with access and functional needs. And for residents with pets, we have arranged pet-friendly locations. To receive temporary housing accommodations, please call us at 404-497-6808 and indicate that you are a SoCalGas customer calling about an Aliso Canyon claim. This call center is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Please note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, our relocation partners have reduced staffing. Please click here for instructions on how to secure temporary housing accommodations over the holiday weekend.
Preparations took place onsite today in our continued operations to attempt to stop the flow of gas. Work will continue over the weekend; as work continues, there is a potential for residents in the community to hear unusual noises and smell additional odors. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Relief well work progresses through a list of sequential steps in preparation for drilling to begin; we have not yet determined when drilling will commence
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a fact sheet stating, “Methane level readings in Porter Ranch are substantially lower than flammable limits, and do not pose a health concern to residents in the area.” They also stated, “Odors are not associated with long-term health effects, but they may cause recurrent symptoms on a daily basis in some individuals as long as the odors remain.” [Would LA Public Health tell the public the truth? Why not disclose publicly the massive explosive risk neighbouring communities, homes and businesses are in if the gas migrates or has migrated?]
We are putting on hold the odor mitigation system to do further consultation with the AQMD and Public Health and take into consideration the community input.
SoCalGas will continue to monitor the well pressures 24/7 to ensure conditions remain safe.
A team of our environmental specialists and retained experts will continue conducting daily air sampling and monitoring at several representative sites both within the leak site and the community. [Why is the guilty party doing the sampling and monitoring?Where are the “regulators?”]
Although experts agree that natural gas is not toxic and that the levels of the odorant in the natural gas are too low to be a long-term health concern, we are continuing to conduct this sampling to provide the community with more information. The samples we are taking are in addition to those being taken by South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). Air sampling results from our tests are available at www.socalgas.com/newsroom/aliso-canyon-updates/air-sample-results. [Methane is an asphyxiant; it can kill quickly without warning. It’s also a severe explosive risk when leaking from storage facilities because of the massive volumes and pressures involved. Why wouldn’t the company disclose the real danger communities and families are in?]
On October 23, SoCalGas crews discovered a leak at one of the natural gas storage wells at its Aliso Canyon storage field. In response, we activated the appropriate procedures to begin to address the leak.
We regret that the smell of the odorant in natural gas is unpleasant and that some people are sensitive to the odor, and we sincerely apologize for the annoyance and concern this odor is causing the neighboring communities. However, the leak does not pose an imminent threat to public safety. [Why lie about something this dangerous? Industry’s leaking natural gas can travel seven miles underground in a hurry] The well is located in an isolated, mountain area more than a mile away from and more than 1,200 feet higher than the closest home or public area.
Scientists [not all] agree natural gas is not toxic and that its odorant is harmless at the minute levels at which it is added to natural gas [perhaps not in one home or at one gas plant, but in the massive volumes leaking from the company’s storage facility the mercaptan is likely seriously harming people]. In outdoor locations such as this [but not so for the gas migrating underground, into building basements, homes, water supplies, etc], natural gas quickly dissipates into the air, greatly reducing the possibility for ignition and further diluting the gas as it reaches the public. The human nose is amazingly sensitive and can detect the smell of the odorant at levels much lower than any level of concern.
Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME)
Methyl mercaptan is absorbed rapidly through inhalation and minimally through
skin and eye exposure. The gas is absorbed rapidly through the respiratory system
and ultimately reaches the vascular system. Methyl mercaptan binds to protein and
erythrocytes and is extremely effective in stabilizing erythrocyte membranes against
hypotonic hemolysis. The compound reacts directly with collagen. Methyl
mercaptan can be metabolized by serving as a methyl, sulfur or methionine donor
for synthesizing amino acids and proteins. The compound is readily oxidized to
carbon dioxide and inorganic sulfates. It interferes with cytochrome C oxidase,
sodium-potassium ATPase and catalase activities in animal cells.
Clinical Effects of Acute Exposure
• Ocular exposures: Methyl mercaptan is an eye and mucous membrane irritant.
It may cause moderate conjunctivitis and diplopia.
• Dermal exposures: Exposure may result in redness, irritation and swelling.
Frostbite injury can occur from dermal exposure to liquid methyl mercaptan.
• Inhalation exposures: Symptoms may include fever, cough, dyspnea, tightness
and burning in the chest, dizziness, headache, loss of sense of smell, nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea. Inhalation may cause CNS depression, respiratory
irritation, respiratory paralysis, pulmonary edema, tremors and seizures. It may also
cause liver and kidney damage, tachycardia and hypertension.
Methemoglobinemia and severe hemolytic anemia with hematuria and protenuria
have been reported in a patient with G-6-PD deficiency.
• Ingestion exposures: Ingestion is unlikely, but irritation of the mouth, throat and
esophagus are possible effects.
Acute toxicity, Category 3, Inhalation
Hazard Statements : H220: Extremely flammable gas.
H280: Contains gas under pressure; may explode if heated.
H331: Toxic if inhaled.
H401: Toxic to aquatic life
P273: Avoid release to the environment.
P304 + P340: IF INHALED: Remove victim to fresh air and
keep at rest in a position comfortable for breathing.
If inhaled : Call a physician or poison control center immediately. Keep
patient warm and at rest. If unconscious place in recovery
position and seek medical advice. Keep respiratory tract clear.
In case of eye contact : Flush eyes with water as a precaution. Remove contact
lenses. Protect unharmed eye. Keep eye wide open while
rinsing. If eye irritation persists, consult a specialist.
… etc etc
Methyl mercaptan is highly irritant when it contacts moist tissues such as the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory tract. It can also induce headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coma, and death. [Emphasis added]
Routes of Exposure
Inhalation is the major route of exposure to methyl mercaptan. An odor threshold of 0.002 ppm has been reported for methyl mercaptan, but olfactory fatigue may occur and thus, it may not provide adequate warning of hazardous concentrations.
Vapors of liquified methyl mercaptan gas are heavier than air and spread along the ground. Exposure in poorly ventilated, enclosed, or low-lying areas can result in asphyxiation.
Children exposed to the same levels of methyl mercaptan as adults may receive a larger dose because they have a greater lung surface area:body weight ratios and higher minute volume:weight ratios. In addition, they may be exposed to higher levels than adults in the same location because of their short stature….
Standards and Guidelines
OSHA PEL (permissible exposure limit) = 10 ppm (20 mg/m3)
NIOSH REL (recommended exposure limit) = 0.5 ppm
NIOSH IDLH (immediately dangerous to life or health) = 150 ppm
AIHA ERPG-2 (maximum airborne concentration below which it is believed that nearly all persons could be exposed for up to 1 hour without experiencing or developing irreversible or other serious health effects or symptoms that could impair their abilities to take protective action) = 25 ppm.
Methyl mercaptan inhibits mitochondrial respiration by interfering with cytochrome c oxidase. It also inhibits several enzyme systems such as carbonic anhydrase, beta-tyrosinase, and sodium+, potassium+ATPase. The enzyme inhibition appears to be related to a thiol-metal interference.
Children do not always respond to chemicals in the same way that adults do. Different protocols for managing their care may be needed.
Acute inhalation exposure can irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. This may cause cough, dyspnea, a sensation of tightness of the chest, and subsequent cyanosis. Respiratory depression, apnea, and pulmonary edema were observed in animals.
Children may be more vulnerable to gas exposure because of relatively higher minute ventilation per kg and failure to evacuate an area promptly when exposed.
Severe hemolytic anemia may occur in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.
Restlessness, headache, staggering, and dizziness may develop; severe exposure may lead to convulsions and coma.
Frostbite injury can occur from contact with the liquified gas.
Because of their relatively larger surface area:weight ratio, children are more vulnerable to toxicants that may affect the skin.
High concentrations of methyl mercaptan can cause eye irritation.
Although ingestion is unlikely, irritation of the mouth, throat, and esophagus are possible. Nausea and vomiting may occur even with inhalation exposure to the gas.
Methyl mercaptan exposure may result in altered heme synthesis.
Dermatitis can occur with chronic exposure to methyl mercaptan.
Methyl mercaptan has not been classified for carcinogenic effects.
Reproductive and Developmental Effects
No information is available regarding reproductive or developmental effects of methyl mercaptan in experimental animals or humans. Methyl mercaptan is not included in Reproductive and Developmental Toxicants, a 1991 report published by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) that lists 30 chemicals of concern because of widely acknowledged reproductive and developmental consequences.
There is no specific antidote for methyl mercaptan poisoning. [Emphasis added]
Ethyl mercaptan is an odorous, colorless liquid. The disagreeable odor has been described as penetrating, persistent, and garlic- or leek-like, similar to decaying cabbage. It is found in illuminating gas, in “sour” gas in West Texas oil fields, and in petroleum distillates from which it may be separated by chemical or physical methods. It is used as an intermediate and starting material in the manufacture of plastics, insecticides, and antioxidants, and as an odorant to serve as a warning property for natural gas (O’Neil et al. 2006).
Ethyl mercaptan depresses the central nervous system and affects the respiratory center, similar to hydrogen sulfide, producing death by respiratory paralysis. Clinical signs of exposure are ocular and mucous membrane irritation, headache, dizziness, staggering gait, nausea, and vomiting. Paralysis of locomotor muscles has also been observed. Its primary mechanism of action appears to be interference with cytochrome oxidase.
AEGL-1 [Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Hazardous Substances] values for ethyl mercaptan were based on a no-effect level of 10 ppm for respiratory changes associated with odor avoidance in rabbits exposed for 20 min (Shibata 1966a). Two uncertainty factors of 3 were applied to account for interspecies differences and intraspecies variability, and are considered sufficient because use of the full factor of 10 for either type of uncertainty would yield AEGL-1 values of 0.3 ppm or less, concentrations that are inconsistent with human data. A single AEGL-1 value was used across exposure durations because prolonged exposure to ethyl mercaptan is unlikely to result in an enhanced effect.
The level of distinct odor awareness (LOA) for ethyl mercaptan is 1.4 x10-4 ppm (see Appendix C for LOA derivation). The LOA represents the concentration above which it is predicted that more than half of the exposed population will experience at least a distinct odor intensity, and about 10% of the population will experience a strong odor intensity. Because of its relatively high vapor pressure (442 mm Hg at 20ºC) (NIOSH 2011), ethyl mercaptan has the potential to generate toxic air concentrations very quickly in the event of a spill. The LOA should help chemical emergency responders assess the public awareness of exposure to ethyl mercaptan from its odor.
No robust data on ethyl mercaptan consistent with the definition of AEGL-2 were available. Therefore, the AEGL-2 values for ethyl mercaptan were based on a 3-fold reduction in the AEGL-3 values. This calculation is considered an estimate of a threshold for irreversible effects and is appropriate because of the steep concentration-response curve for ethyl mercaptan toxicity.
AEGL-3 values are based on a calculated 4-h LC01 (lethal concentration, 1% lethality) of 2,250 ppm in mice (Fairchild and Stokinger 1958). The corresponding 4-h LC01 value for rats is 3,808 ppm. An intraspecies uncertainty factor of 3 was applied, and is considered sufficient because of the steepness of the lethality concentration-response curve which implies limited individual variability. An interspecies uncertainty factor of 3 was also applied because the limited data suggest that the mouse is the most sensitive species. Although an interspecies uncertainty factor of 10 might normally be applied because of the limited data, a total uncertainty factor of 30 would yield AEGL-3 values that are inconsistent with the total data set (the values would be in the range of AEGL-3 values for hydrogen sulfide [NRC 2010]). Furthermore, the 30-min AEGL-3 value would be 150 ppm, a value that is inconsistent with the finding that a single human exposed to ethyl mercaptan at 112 ppm for 20 min exhibited only a slightly irregular and decreased breathing rate (Shibata 1966b). Thus, the total uncertainty factor is 10. The 30-min AEGL-3 value was adopted as the 10-min value because of the uncertainty associated with extrapolating a 4-h point of departure to a 10-min value.
AEGL values for ethyl mercaptan are presented in Table 1-1. End Reality Check]
We have assembled a world-class team of experts, and we are working as quickly as safety will allow to stop the leak. In addition, we are in regular communication with L.A. City and County Fire and Hazmat Departments, the L.A. County Department of Health, the California Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
We apologize for how this incident may be affecting you, and we appreciate the community’s ongoing patience as we work as quickly and safely as possible to resolve this situation. If you believe you have suffered harm or injury as a result of this incident, please complete this online form or call 213-244-5151. For temporary housing accommodations, call us at 404-497-6808. [Emphasis added]
Class Action Suit Filed for Neighbors of Month-Long Gas Leak, A man is suing Southern California Gas Co. over a gas leak in the Northridge-Chatsworth area that some neighbors blame for health problems by Paige Austin, November 23, 2015
A Porter Ranch man sued Southern California Gas Co. and its parent company Sempra Energy today, alleging his home was negatively affected by odors and pollutants generated by the recent leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in the Northridge-Chatsworth area..
William Gandsey filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging negligence and both public and private nuisance. He seeks unspecified damages.
A Gas Co. representative said he may have a comment later today on the lawsuit.
Last week, county health officials directed the utility to expedite repairs and offer residents free temporary relocation options. The leak was discovered Oct. 23 by crews at the storage facility located near Northridge and was reported to the county five days later.
The Gas Co. has said the leak, which could take months to repair, does not pose a threat because it is outdoors and over a mile away from and more than 1,200 feet higher than homes or public areas. [Has the company monitored the migration of the leaking gases in all directions? Has a regulator? How can the company know what the threats are, if they don’t know everywhere that the fugitive gases have leaked to?]
Gandsey “lives well within the exposure zone within the Porter Ranch community,” his suit states. He says his home has been “physically invaded by gases, chemicals, noxious odors, pollutants and contaminants” from the facility, which is located a mile from Porter Ranch and is the largest of four natural gas storage fields owned by the Gas Co.
The Southern California Air Quality Management District has received nearly 500 complaints from residents having nausea, dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath, nose bleeds and headaches, according to the lawsuit. [Emphasis added]
Natural gas leak that’s sickening Valley residents could take months to fix by Tony Barboza with contributions from Emily Alpert Reyes, Hailey Branson-Potts and Julie Cart, November 21, 2015, LA Times
Southern California Gas Co. is warning that it might need several months to plug a natural gas leak that has been sickening residents in the San Fernando Valley for weeks.
A leaking well in the Santa Susana Mountains, more than a mile from the nearest homes in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch, has elicited hundreds of complaints from residents and drawn the scrutiny of state regulators and health officials.
The gas company discovered the leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility Oct. 23 and said it occurred in a pipe casing a few hundred feet below the surface of a well that goes 8,500 feet underground. The gas is flowing into the earth and seeping up through the ground, said Javier Mendoza, a gas company spokesman.
On Friday, the California Air Resources Board released a report showing that the well has been leaking a huge amount of methane, the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas. Methane is being released at a rate of about 50,000 kilograms per hour, accounting for about one-quarter of all methane emissions in California, the board estimated.
To date, the leak has released the equivalent of 0.80 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the air board estimates, about the same amount of emissions as driving 160,000 cars for a year or consuming 90 million gallons of gas. The finding “underscores the urgency of stopping the gas leak,” according to the report, which is based on measurements collected on the ground and from towers, airplanes and satellites.
As the leak drags on, patience is wearing thin among Porter Ranch residents, who have reported rotten egg odor, headaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds and other symptoms that have forced some to stay indoors.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has received 499 odor complaints.
“When the wind blows, it will just blast you and your eyes get watery,” said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council, adding that the leak “keeps going on and on and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight.”
“The community is understandably frustrated and up in arms, both from an environmental standpoint and for their quality of life,” Cracium said. [What about irreversible health harm?]
The gas company said that what people are smelling is an odorant that utilities add to natural gas to assist in leak detection. The company has posted information on its website assuring residents that “the leak does not pose an imminent threat to public safety.” [Refer above, to read their statement]
Health officials confirmed that the gas being released is not dangerous and does not pose long-term health risk. But mercaptans, the sulfur-like odorants added to natural gas, can cause the short-term health problems being reported.
Those symptoms “are expected to continue, as long as the odors remain,” according to an assessment by the L.A. County Department of Public Health, which Thursday ordered the company to pay to relocate residents affected by the odors.
On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion by Councilman Mitchell Englander summoning the gas company, environmental regulators and fire and health officials to answer questions.
Air district inspectors on Nov. 5 ordered the gas company to stop the leak “safely and as soon as possible.”
“We’re currently evaluating the complaints and the information provided by the gas company to determine if any violations have occurred,” air district spokesman Sam Atwood said.
Samples collected by the air district in residential areas found elevated levels of methane, ethane and propane, gases that are not considered toxic. In front of one house, the air district detected methane at 616 parts per million — far above typical background levels of 2 ppm. Another sample had elevated levels of benzene, a carcinogen.
Gas company crews have tried unsuccessfully to plug the leak by pumping fluid into the well, utility spokesman Mendoza said. As a plan B, the company has applied for a permit to drill a new relief well to seal off the leaking well. Construction could start as early as next week and take several months.
On Wednesday, the state’s oil and gas regulator ordered the gas company to provide detailed information about the leak, including real-time pressure data from the wellhead, videos from the interior of the well and other information that may provide a snapshot of the condition of the well and its mechanical integrity.
The order, from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, stated that an “uncontrolled flow of fluids” and gas was escaping and the operator had failed to fully inform state officials about the well’s status. Steve Bohlen, the state oil and gas supervisor, also directed the company to submit a schedule for remediation work or for drilling a relief well.
Mendoza said the gas company was cooperating with the orders of state and local officials.
The 3,600-acre Aliso Canyon facility is one of four natural gas storage fields the gas company operates in Southern California. The company pumps natural gas to the site and stores it in an underground formation — a depleted oil reserve the company acquired in 1972. The gas is withdrawn as needed to distribute to power plants, businesses and homes.
Leaks at natural gas wells and pipelines are common, but the one at Aliso Canyon is so large it raises concerns about how much California’s natural gas infrastructure is contributing to climate change, said Timothy O’Connor, who directs the California Oil and Gas Program for the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group.
O’Connor called the incident “the worst case that you might imagine: a huge leak that you can’t fix,” adding that “it’s a stark example of how important it is to regulate methane.” [Then why are courts and regulators enabling massive deregulation of leaking methane? And why are NGOs like EDF constantly misleading the public about the deregulation that’s been going on and getting worse for years? Refer below to: 2011: Lawsuit leaves large gas storage fields in Kansas unregulated]
In a statement, Jill Tracy, director of Environmental Services for Southern California Gas, said, “Once we stop the leak, we will use established methods to calculate accurately how much leaked into the air and how much is still underground.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Effects of Hutchinson, Kan., gas leak can be worldwide by Oil and Gas Journal, 04/09/2001
The gas apparently escaped from underground storage and erupted in Hutchinson, Kan., killing two residents. The incident put a solution mining operation on hold in the UK and prompted German regulators to seek more information on such activity, according to Joe L. Ratigan, of Sofregaz US Inc., Houston. He spoke as representative of Hutchinson at a hearing by the Kansas Senate Utilities Committee in March.
“This really catches a lot of people’s attention. There has never been a failure of a gas storage cavern before,” said Ratigan.
It should prompt the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to toughen its “lax” regulation of underground storage facilities in that state and may prompt other states to rework theirs.
New York and Louisiana have each been working for 3 years or longer on a state regulation for hydrocarbons storage caverns, but [it] is “not yet complete,” said Ratigan.
New York’s proposed regulation is still in draft form, while Louisiana issued a statewide order governing storage caverns, following a fire at the West Hackberry site of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that was finally quelled by the Boots & Coots Inc. wild well control firm.
Although it has hydrocarbon storage caverns, Oklahoma has no rule specifically regulating gas storage, Ratigan said.
The “working assumption,” as of mid- March, was that the Jan. 17-18 eruptions of gas and brine in 30-ft geysers in Hutchinson resulted from the loss of 73 MMcf of gas from the Yaggy storage facility 7 miles down from the central Kansas community of 40,000 people (OGJ Online, Feb. 21, 2001).
Oneok Inc., Tulsa, owns and operates the Yaggy field.
The gas likely escaped through “a fist-size hole” in the casing of an injection well that was drilled out in 1992 to convert the former propane storage facility into a gas storage unit.
KDHE officials earlier reported the “fingerprint” of gas venting in Hutchinson matched the gas in storage at Yaggy. That facility is operated by Kansas Gas Service Co., a division of Oneok Inc., Tulsa, which provides gas to 660,000 customers in Kansas and northeast Oklahoma.
By mid-March, 49 sites had been or were being drilled in and around Hutchinson in search of deposits of migrating gas primarily 285-400 ft underground. Officials reported “low flows” of gas are still being flared at nine of those sites, while two others encountered gas but are not flaring.
Geologists still don’t know, however, along which route the escaping gas migrated.
Members of the Kansas Geological Survey said two seismic surveys in early February at first indicated a possible subsurface sand channel through which the escaping gas could flow up from the storage facility. But that hasn’t been borne out by a study of area well logs or the 22% success rate in drilling for suspected gas pockets, Allison told OGJ Online.
Survey members are now looking for possibly extensive fractures in silt deposits on top of the Wellington Shale that overlies and is mixed with the Hutchinson bedded salt that housed the Yaggy storage caverns.
There are more than 600 NGL-LPG salt storage caverns in Kansas, the most of any state. Kansas also has more natural gas storage caverns, although Gulf Coast salt dome caverns are 10-20 times bigger than the typical Kansas unit, Ratigan said. Unlike the salt domes in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the only salt formations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania are bedded salt-layers of salt intermixed with layers of other rocks. Texas is the only state with both bedded salt and salt domes at useable depths for underground storage, he said.
The mix of bedded salt and permeable rock formations around Hutchinson-one of the first US sites for solution salt mining in the late 1800s-is just one of the problems the KDHE did not address in its regulation of underground storage facilities, Ratigan told state legislators.
Some of the many unplugged brine wells that were long ago drilled and abandoned within Hutchinson apparently helped route the escaping gas to the surface. [Emphasis added]
Slides from Ernst presentations
Knox says it’s unsettling to know that because of a federal court decision last year, neither the state nor federal governments are inspecting the gas field near his home, or others holding thousands of times the amount of gas that caused havoc in Hutchinson. “Any time you’ve got gas going, you need to have it inspected every now and then,” Knox said.
“If we get a leak and it’s not detected or the pipe gets weak and nobody ever inspects it, we could have an explosion like Hutchinson.”
Since the federal district court in Topeka struck down Kansas gas-safety laws last year, 11 underground storage sites with a capacity of more than 270 billion cubic feet of gas have gone uninspected for 18 months, according to state officials.
The state can’t inspect them.
The federal government has chosen not to.
As a result, thousands of Kansans live on and around uninspected gas-storage fields that dwarf the system that caused the Hutchinson disaster.
U.S. District Senior Judge Sam Crow ruled that “appropriate” and “feasible” meant Colorado Interstate Gas is free to ignore state regulations. [Emphasis added]