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Map: Hundreds Of Methane Gas Leaks Around Los Angeles

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The Environmental Defense Fund has mapped where roughly 250 methane leaks are located beneath the streets of L.A. by cleverly rigging up a Google mapping car with air monitoring equipment.

"These leaks are all over the place: In our neighborhoods and under our cities," Tim O’Connor, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's California Climate Initiative, told the L.A. Times.

While the identified leaks plotted on the interactive map—which are mostly around Pasadena, Inglewood and Chino—aren't considered a major threat to public safety, the gas is a significant contributor to climate change, and repairing the leaks are considered by experts to be important for meeting Governor Jerry Brown's emission reduction targets. And if methane gas does build up to high concentrations in contained buildings and there is an ignition source, some leaks could cause an explosion, which famously happened to a Ross Dress for Less on W. 3rd St. near Fairfax in 1985.

The results of the mapping project have been reported to the Southern California Gas Co., which just released it's own, less user-friendly, interactive map.

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Several of the leaks discovered by the Environmental Defense Fund were unknown to SoCal Gas and required immediate repair. However, the utility concluded that 40-50% of the sources are coming from outside of the city's natural gas pipelines. Those other sources typically include natural ground seeps like the La Brea Tar Pits or gas from oil fields found throughout L.A., which is largely considered to be the cause of the Ross explosion.

Identifying the location of the methane leaks with the help of the Environmental Defense Fund's map will likely also help other efforts to pinpoint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across L.A. A new state law also charges that the California Public Utilities Commission must work towards further minimizing methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the L.A. Times, gas utilities are required to file a report today about natural gas leaks and how they plan on managing them.