Bad News: Huge Large Methane Leak stirs fear in South Africa

Bad News: Huge Large Methane Leak stirs fear in South Africa

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Scientists have revealed that a major ‘methane cloud‘ has been found above one of South Africa’s most polluted regions. The discovery has put environmentalists on high alert and attempts to find the culprits are still ongoing.

WHERE IS THE METHANE CLOUD IN SOUTH AFRICA?
The methane cloud registered on the radars of Kayrros SAS last month. The analytics company studies data released by the European Space Agency and its satellite observations – and some strange activity was detected above the skies of Mpumalanga and its coal mines. The ‘methane hot-spot was found 120km west of Johannesburg, on 10 May.

Kayrros also found two other plumes in the vicinity on May 27, but it was the earlier methane cloud that set the alarm bells ringing, with emissions sending about 65 tonnes of the gas into the atmosphere PER HOUR – gargantuan figures, by anyone’s definition. SASOL, which operates in this part of Mpumalanga, has denied any responsibility.

WHY THE MPUMALANGA METHANE CLOUD IS SO DANGEROUS
SASOL has made it clear that, on the aforementioned dates, their readings were no different than usual. Anglo Americans have also rejected any claims that they sparked the huge cloud of toxic gas…

– Methane can trap about 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide can
– SASOL is required to shut down operations if their methane output reaches 1%
– Officials claim that their data never got above 0.05% on the aforementioned dates.
– According to Kayrros, it was the worst methane cloud detected in Africa this year.
POLLUTION IN MPUMALANGA ‘LEADING TO DEATHS’
Mpumalanga itself has a shocking level of air quality, due to the relentless industrialization of its rural areas. The province is home to several Eskom power plants, as well as a high concentration of coal mines.

Bad News Huge Large Methane Leak stirs fear in South Africa

Kayrros SAS, a Paris-based analytics company, has detected a gas leak about 125 kilometers east of Johannesburg, South Africa. By parsing European Space Agency satellite observations, the company detected a large methane cloud near coal mines.

Sasol Ltd, which has coal mines around said region, said it didn’t record any elevated methane levels that day. Furthermore, the company added that emissions from its mining operations “are highly diluted and dispersed over a wide geographical area.” Similarly, Anglo American Plc said its open-cast Isibonelo mine located nearby is “highly unlikely to emit the levels” estimated by Kayrros. Kayrros SAS estimated an emission rate of 65 metric tons per hour on Monday, 10th of May 2021.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with important implications for climate change. Although methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime than carbon dioxide, it absorbs much more energy while in the atmosphere. Before, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from industries have relied mainly on paper-based calculations. However, improvements in satellite technology have created a different perspective. Researchers are starting to stress test the data – and the early results show leaky oil and gas industry infrastructure is responsible for far more of the methane in the atmosphere than previously thought, according to Reuters.

While coal dependence as an energy source is dropping, fossil fuel mining causes natural gas emissions. This is as companies sometimes release the gas trapped underground to lower the risk of explosions. More so, methane can continue leaking after mining activities have discontinued. Consequently, the Global Methane Initiative expects the mining industry to generate about 10% of human-made methane emissions.

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