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By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

February 15, 2016

First Aerial Infrared Footage of L.A. Natural Gas Leak

Thousands of residents from upscale community Porter Ranch, California, as suburb of Los Angeles, have been relocated after becoming sickened by nearby massive gas leak that began in October 2015. The natural gas well was originally an oil field but was quickly depleted over a 60 plus year span. In the 1970s, the land’s owners pumped in natural gas into the empty well to be stored and later used when prices were higher. As nearby residents began experiencing nausea, nosebleeds, dizziness, and headaches the utility provider SoCalGas allegedly informed local authorities 3 days after detection according to court documents. The residents were initially told they were feeling sick from the rotten-egg smell added to the natural gas which is used to alert customers when they have a gas leak in their home as natural gas is odorless, but it was further revealed that compounds that can cause cancer, for example benzene, were elevated beyond their legal limits. Residents and media took to using infrared cameras to show the dramatic effect of the gas leak, as well as to provide peace of mind when it is resolved. By adding a special filter and using a specific bandwidth of the infrared spectrum, infrared cameras can detect gases including natural gas in the atmosphere to be shown in the visible spectrum. The above video was taken with a special infrared camera from a helicopter showing what is invisible to the naked eye or traditional cameras. SoCalGas has been working on building a new relief well adjacent to the broken well to siphon the gas to a new receptacle, after which time the old well will be filled with mud and sealed with cement. The leak was stopped last week, but the families won’t start moving back to nearby homes until state authorities have certified that cement pumped into the well has permanently plugged it.

Update: On February 17, SoCalGas pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the ruptured well in California that leaked for weeks. The complaint brought by the county district attorney includes three counts of failing to report the release of a hazardous material and one count of discharge of air contaminants. If convicted, the company could be fined up to $1,000 per day for air pollution violations and up to $25,000 for each of the three days it didn’t notify the state office of emergency services of the leak.


  1. Why doesn’t Fetty Wap rap about this in LA?
    “Gushers not bullets, smelly, sick to my belly, can’t eat my cutlets.”

    Comment by GrandeNotAriana — February 19, 2016 @ 17:40


  3. Uh oh.

    Comment by Gogo — February 19, 2016 @ 19:13


  5. “Smell hit me like a Ike stone, just lova Benzo, runnin away for end zone.”

    Comment by Tina Turner — February 21, 2016 @ 03:21


  7. “Getting smacked with an Ike smell, feel like I’m in hell, please close up that gas well.”

    Comment by Tina's Daughter — February 24, 2016 @ 13:44


  9. Didn’t know infrared can see gas. That’s cool. Maybe I will see it with a pass of my camera.

    Comment by Doug Dangerous — March 2, 2016 @ 10:12


  11. Can any infrared camera see gas or does it have to be special?

    Comment by SeeTheLight — March 9, 2016 @ 14:53


  13. @STL Infrared cameras can see gas but they need a special filter attached to the lens which is usually built in. There is also other emerging technology that can see different kinds of gas that doesn’t use infrared. Thanks for asking.

    Comment by Lumistar — March 13, 2016 @ 17:51


  15. “Whip it up like rotten egg stir fry, in my Lambo as I swerve by.”

    Comment by Fetty Duwop — March 15, 2016 @ 09:42


  17. That’s a genuinely impressive answer.

    Comment by Suzy — March 22, 2016 @ 04:04


  19. There are many things I would like to say to you but I don’t know how to talk this science. Thanks for the blog, so that I can keep learning.

    Comment by Corko — April 5, 2016 @ 06:58


  21. Good thing they finally stopped this catastrophe.

    Comment by BNW — April 9, 2016 @ 03:45


  23. Gas filters on infrared are very cool.

    Comment by hashtag — April 13, 2016 @ 22:18


  25. I can smell it from here.

    Comment by Justfortwo — April 15, 2016 @ 12:38


  27. This video is a form of science artistry.

    Comment by MG G — April 17, 2016 @ 18:54


  29. You could cut that smell with a knife.

    Comment by Badabing — April 22, 2016 @ 14:18


  31. They need a black box to put on top.

    Comment by Divan — May 11, 2016 @ 19:54


  33. I wonder if this gas is hot or cold.

    Comment by Cassy — May 16, 2016 @ 09:09


  35. If I live in this area should I sell my property?

    Comment by red leather — May 17, 2016 @ 01:29


  37. Wonderful video. frightening.

    Comment by Dishcanova — June 17, 2016 @ 11:45


  39. That isn’t Texas tea or black gold. Just sayin.

    Comment by Buksitommy — July 10, 2016 @ 18:12


  41. There was a problem with the video, thanks for fixing it!

    Comment by JIMjim — August 30, 2016 @ 14:00


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