Last week, NASA released a follow-up study on its 2014 report that exposed a huge methane hotspot looming over the Four Corners. In the original report, NASA did not know what was causing this highly unusual density of methane pollution. The agency’s latest report drilled deeper to find the source of the pollution: the oil and gas industry.
Whatever the cause and however extensive, a fire’s sheer destructive power always captures attention. The recent explosion and fire at a New Mexico oil field quickly grabbed headlines with images of roiling flames, thick smoke, and stories of residents forced to evacuate. Concerns remain about air quality, the lack of any evacuation plan, and health as WPX Energy, owner of the site, let the fire burn itself out—releasing toxins into the air in the process.
It’s logical and not that unusual for a drilling site to catch fire; both oil and natural gas are highly combustible and flammable. Yet the photos from the New Mexico fire reveal that several tanks used to store waste were also burning intensely.