Severe natural gas leak in Los Angeles County could be major disaster

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Severe Natural Gas Leak in Los Angeles County Could Be Major Disaster



A massive natural gas leak from a Los Angeles County storage facility is pouring millions of pounds of methane into the atmosphere, and California officials say it's shaping up to be major ecological disaster.

Officials told The Washington Post the Aliso Canyon leak was first detected more than two months ago and is releasing about 110,000 pounds of gas per hour. It's invisible to the naked eye, but the outlet recently obtained infrared video showing the dangerous gas billowing into the air.

See photos of the Aliso Canyon facility and nearby neighborhoods:

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Severe natural gas leak in Los Angeles County could be major disaster
Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 9. 2015. Once the relief well is connected to the leaking well, SoCalGas will pump fluids and cement into the bottom of the leaking well to stop the flow of gas and permanently seal the well. (Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool)
Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 9. 2015. Once the relief well is connected to the leaking well, SoCalGas will pump fluids and cement into the bottom of the leaking well to stop the flow of gas and permanently seal the well. (Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool)
Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 9. 2015. Once the relief well is connected to the leaking well, SoCalGas will pump fluids and cement into the bottom of the leaking well to stop the flow of gas and permanently seal the well. (Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool)
Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, right, speaks to a reporter after testifying to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors about an uncontrolled gas leak that has sickened residents in his Los Angeles neighborhood on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. Other Porter Ranch residents in the background from left to right: Ethan Michaels, 8, Cameron Michaels, 11, Danielle Michaels, the boys' mother, Kyoko Hibino and Michelle Theriault. SoCalGas crews and technical experts are attempting to safely stop the flow of natural gas leaking from a storage well at the utilityâs Aliso Canyon facility near Northridge section of Los Angeles. Workers are trying to stop a leak from a massive underground natural gas well on the that has nearby residents concerned for their safety and annoyed by the unpleasant smell. (AP Photo/Brian Melley)
A neighborhood where many people have left their homes because of a massive natural-gas leak is seen in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
Construction continues on one of many local gated communities as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
A sign indicates stepped up presence of Los Angeles police officers where many people have left their homes because of a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
The boundary of Southern California Gas Company property, where Aliso Canyon Storage Field is located, is seen as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2015: Porter Ranch residents Michelle Theriault, left, Danielle Michaels, center, and her son Cameron Michaels, 11, right, listen as Board of Supervisors address problems caused by Aliso Canyon natural gas leak during meeting in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 24, 2015. The leak was reported on October 23 and has been sickening area resident for over a month. (Brian van der Brug /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2015: Save Porter Ranch's Matt Pakucko speaks to Board of Supervisors on Aliso Canyon natural gas leak during meeting in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 24, 2015. The leak was reported on October 23 and has been sickening area resident for over a month. (Brian van der Brug /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Construction continues on one of many local gated communities as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
A truck enters the gates of Southern California Gas Company property where Aliso Canyon Storage Field near a neighborhood where many people have left their homes because of a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
Trucks enter the gates of Southern California Gas Company property where Aliso Canyon Storage Field is located as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
A closure notice is posted on a gate at Porter Ranch Community School which is closing as students are moved to another facility in response to a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order December 23rd to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23rd. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a no-fly zone over the leak, and the Los Angeles Unified School District will relocate 1,870 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to schools farther away from the leak. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
A caravan of trucks on a playground carries away the contents of Porter Ranch Community School which is closing as students are moved to another facility in response to a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order December 23rd to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23rd. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a no-fly zone over the leak, and the Los Angeles Unified School District will relocate 1,870 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to schools farther away from the leak. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
Playground equipment sits idle in a neighborhood where many people have left their homes because of a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, on December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order on December 23 to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
An Air Quality Management District air monitoring trailer stands on Porter Ranch Community School which is closing as students are moved to another facility in response to a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of the of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, December 22, 2015. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will seek a court order December 23rd to speed up the relocation of families affected by the gas coming from the Aliso Canyon Storage Field since October 23rd. Los Angeles County officials have declared a state of emergency for Porter Ranch where more than 1,600 residents have been displaced. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a no-fly zone over the leak, and the Los Angeles Unified School District will relocate 1,870 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to schools farther away from the leak. AFP PHOTO / DAVID MCNEW / AFP / DAVID MCNEW (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
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On top of being an explosive hazard, the methane is also a potent greenhouse gas that's reportedly affecting both the atmosphere and the well-being of many nearby residents.

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Thousands have been forced to evacuate the area, and students there will have to move to different schools. And several lawsuits have already been filed by people who claim they've been harmed by the leak.

"I have felt the effects, as my husband has — the stomach, the vomiting, the headaches. But when my 17-month-old son has to be on a nebulizer and comes home with bloody noses, there's no excuse," resident Robin Shapiro told NPR.

A spokesperson for the storage facility's owner, Southern California Gas Co., told the Los Angeles Times the leak likely began when an underground well-casing failed, which allowed pressurized gas to push through to the surface.

So far, efforts to contain the gas leak have been unsuccessful, and state officials say it could take months before it's stopped.

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