Author: FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) – A private company using satellites to detect sources of methane emissions around the world announced on Wednesday that it has detected one of the largest artificial emissions of powerful greenhouse gas ever observed coming from a coal mine in Russia in the beginning this year.
Montreal-based GHGSat said one of its satellites, known as Hugo, spotted 13 methane clouds at the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia on January 14. The incident probably caused about 90 tons of methane that exploded in the atmosphere in space. hour, they calculated in the company.
“It was a really, really dramatic show,” Brody Wight, director of energy, landfills and mines at GHGSat, told the Associated Press.
Reducing methane emissions from fossil fuel facilities has become a priority for governments seeking to take swift and effective action against climate change. This is because methane is a powerful gas that captures heat, just behind carbon dioxide, which stays in the atmosphere longer.
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GHGSat said the clouds discovered at Raspadska may have been deliberately released as a precautionary measure, as gas could leak from the mines and ignite with potentially deadly consequences. Two methane explosions and a fire in 2010 killed 91 people at the mine, making it one of the worst accidents of its kind in post-Soviet times.
Businesses can prevent the uncontrolled release of methane with best practices. Captured gas can be burned as fuel, reducing its impact on global warming.
GHGSat said it measured further seals over the mine during further overflights in the coming weeks, although these did not reach the same “ultra-emission” scale as we saw on January 14th.
“Even if it’s only for a short time, it won’t take long for this to be a significant show,” Wight said.
Manfredi Caltagirone, who heads the International Observatory on Methane Emissions at the UN Environment Program, said he was not aware of the major methane emissions from the coal mine.
“If this event is due to the accumulation of methane, which is then released all at once instead of several days, the impact on the environment would be the same as if a smaller cloud were released continuously for several days,” Caltagirone said. , which was not included in the GHGSat observation.
“But from a security point of view, this is worrying,” he said, citing recent mine explosions in Poland that killed 13 people.
Nevertheless, the release was probably a very rare occurrence, otherwise they would have been picked up by other satellites to measure methane, Caltagirone said.
GHGSat said it had alerted the Raspadskaya mine operator to its findings, but had not received a response. The operator also did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
In recent years, several private and state satellites have been launched into orbit to help detect methane leaks and raise awareness of the risks they pose to climate and human health.
In one of the most declared methane leaks in the United States, an explosion at a natural gas storage facility in California in 2015 affected residents of the San Fernando Valley and caused the evacuation of 8,000 homes.
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