Sunday, September 22, 2013

What a well blow out looks like

Howdy friends and neighbors of the hills!

Yikes! Did y'all hear about the well in Hawthorne that's been spouting water and methane gas for more than a week?!  Take a look at the video below!

ABC 7 News
Hawthorne gas leak: Displaced families want answers
September, 21, 2013

Seems the trouble started Thursday, Sept. 12 when workers for Golden State Water Company were fiddling around with capping an old water well and accidentally "released" a small geyser.  The first report submitted by Golden State Water to CalEMA says:

While destroying a well the release occurred, material flowed onto soil then into a storm drain, an air monitor indicated a type of unknown vapor being released, FD evacuated six residences with an unknown return time, RP is handling the containment and clean up.

The second report submitted 9 minutes later by L.A. County Fire says:

DELETE: THIS IS A DUPLICATE OF 13-5748 A company was working on a water well stuck a subsurface line causing this release. The gas release will be capped tomorrow, a perimeter has been set up for the night with the home evacuated for the night. The Water Co. is providing a motel for the affected residents. The number evacuated is an estimate.

Under "known impacts" this second reports says:  Seven residences were evacuated.  

Two updated reports were filed but they don't give any new details.  A 5th update was posted on Sept. 19 which says: Caller states the water release has been stopped. Caller wanted to insure the incident had been reported

That's the end of the "official" reporting but did those reports tell the whole story?  Not if you believe what some of the smaller news agencies were saying!  Here's a sampling:

News 4 KRNV-DT Reno
LA evacuations from gas, water leak will continue

The well was being retired a week ago when it began seeping naturally occurring methane gas and pouring out thousands of gallons of water.

Daily Breeze
Hawthorne residents displaced by methane leak must stay away at least another day
By Larry Altman, Daily Breeze, Posted: 09/18/13

Thirty-seven families forced to evacuate their Hawthorne homes last week when a water well exploded and flammable methane gas spewed into the air won’t be able to return for possibly five days as repairs continue, water company officials said Wednesday.

Although work crews stopped water and methane gas from spewing from the well at Imperial Highway and Truro Avenue on Tuesday, experts determined that naturally occurring methane gas continued to seep into the well, Los Angeles County fire Inspector Tony Akins said.

“Tuesday night, experts had an opportunity to sit down and evaluate the situation absent the gas leak. It was decided we don’t just have a water well out here now, we have a gas well,” Akins said.

89.3 KPCC
Q&A: The challenge of fixing the Hawthorne methane leak
Corey Moore, Sept. 19th, 2013
KPCC interviewed Denise Kruger, Senior Vice President of Regulated Utilities with well owner Golden State Water Company, about efforts to fix the problem. 

Q. Is this kind of methane leak common?

Kruger: Methane in the area is naturally occurring but it was very unexpected to have a release of methane in this way while the work was happening with the drinking water well. So it is a very unique situation...a pocket of methane gas [may have] wiggled through the out-of-service well, which caused the methane to come to the atmosphere and the water... to shoot up in the air with the gas. It’s not a common thing and our emergency response protocol[s] have been effectively addressing the situation.  

So much for all the "official" reporting about hitting a "subsurface line!"  Guess someone plum forgot to mention the part about the "naturally occurring methane gas."  Come to think of it, those same someone's forgot to mention that a team of oil-field specialists had to be called in to install a blowout preventer on the well.  Y'all remember what a "blowout preventer" is?  That's the thingy BP had so much troubling with during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Why is methane gas dangerous?  First off, it tends to EXPLODE and second, it's BAD for your health.

USCAnnenberg, Neon Tommy - Annenberg Digital News
No Methane On Mars, But Plenty In Hawthorne
Michael Nystrom , September 19, 2013

So why are people being evacuated from the area?
Methane is an extremely flammable and explosive gas. The explosive range for methane is anywhere from five to 15 percent concentration in the air.  

Methane can also have harmful effects on human health. According to the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, methane is toxic by inhalation and skin exposure.
Potential effects from inhalation include agitation, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache. 

In severe cases, depending on the health of the individual, breathing and heart complications, or coma and death may occur.

Folks, dozens of families in Hawthorne had to be EVACUATED from their homes because of one leaky well.

Here in Montebello, 13 homes had to be torn down when methane leaked up through old oil wells.

Now chew on this,  the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Montebello Hills Specific Plan housing development says there are "approximately 264 well bores" in the Montebello Hills.

As of April 2007, 94 well bores have been abandoned, 96 are producing, 46 are used for water injection, and 28 are idle. The wells are located throughout the Montebello Oil Field. (p.1-2)

Does it bother anybody else that the DEIR says "approximately 264 well bores?"  Kinda makes you wonder where the "rest of the story is", don't it?

I hope those families in Hawthorne get to go home soon with the answers they deserve.

Daisy Mae

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