Catastrophic Ohio Methane Leak Stayed Hidden Until a Satellite Found It

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A little-noticed 2018 methane leak at an Exxon Mobil site in Ohio was one of the worst in recent memory, outpacing the methane emissions from the entire oil and gas industries of many countries.

That’s according to a paper published Dec. 16 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and first reported in the The New York Times. When the natural gas well in Belmont County, Ohio, blew in February, it was a significant local event, prompting the evacuation of about 100 residents within a 1-mile (1.6 kilometers) radius, the Times reported. But it wasn’t clear how large the leak was until researchers in the new paper, studying data from a new European Space Agency (ESA) methane-monitoring satellite, spotted the plume. The blown well was pumping 132 tons (120 metric tons) of methane into the atmosphere every hour, give or take 35 tons (32 metric tons). That’s nearly double the rate of a much more famous leak reported at a SoCalGas site in Aliso Canyon, California, in 2015.



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