Captina Creek, Ohio — Today, Earthworks released new optical gas imaging video that exposes massive methane pollution at an exploded XTO oil and gas site in Belmont County, Ohio. The pollution has been rapidly spilling into the air un-contained since February 15, 2018.
“Similar to the Aliso Canyon disaster in California in 2015, XTO has been unable to fix the problem,” said Pete Dronkers, Earthworks certified optical gas imaging thermographer who also filmed Aliso Canyon. “Our video provides evidence of just how bad the problem is so that nearby communities can make informed decisions about the health and safety of their families before returning to their homes.”
The video was captured as part of Earthworks’ Community Empowerment Project (CEP) as a result of a request from local community members who could see the explosion from their home two miles away. CEP helps protect communities and the climate by making visible normally invisible air pollution from oil and gas production, pressuring regulators and companies to reduce that pollution. In the past four years, CEP has documented and made publicly available over 500 incidents of oil and gas related air pollution in 16 states, Mexico and Canada.
Following the explosion at the Schnegg pad, Exxon Mobil-owned XTO ordered an evacuation for 30 homes within a mile of the site. The outer half-mile has since been approved to return, but some have elected to stay clear until the well pad is capped.
“Disasters like this are difficult to predict and to regulate. If we really want to keep our communities safe we need to keep oil and gas in the ground,” said Jennifer Krill, Earthworks’ Executive Director.
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report estimates pollution from the still out-of-control site at 100 million cubic feet per day. This pollution includes methane, produced water, brine, unknown condensate components, and volatile organic compounds — all being released into the surrounding environment untreated and unfiltered. California’s Air Resources Board estimates that the Aliso Canyon disaster in Porter Ranch, California in 2015 released an average of 49 million cubic feet of methane daily for more than three months. Methane is 86 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over 20 years according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).