updated 1/11/15 10:23 am
A massive methane leak has been spewed at least 83 thousand metric TONS of methane and counting into the air of Burbank, a well-known suburb of Los Angeles for three months now. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Southern California Gas Company removed the original safety valve from the gas well over 36 years ago (1979) and CHOSE not to replace it because it was not required by law to do so. To add injury to insult, the gas company thinks it MAY be able to fix the issue sometime in March. Does this sound like 'Fuku part 2?,' as in the still continuous 100,000 gallons of nasty radioactive water spewing daily into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in eastern Japan? It has been nearly half a decade that 'Fuku' has been releasing itself on the marine life in the Pacific basin killing most if not all marine life in that ocean. Now we have what amounts to a volcanic eruption blasting what amounts to the main component of natural gas into our air.
Where is the social responsibility here? Should we evaluate and more strongly regulate how for-profit energy companies go about their business? The Southern California Gas Company even went on record saying that they chose not to replace the safety valve because it was 'not required by law.'
Hmmmmm..... Not required by law to have a safety valve on an apparatus that could one day break (things break all the time) and create a catastrophic environmental disaster. What does the Environmental Protection Agency do all day? Should they be defunded as the gatekeeper watchdogs? What are they watching?
How much money did the gas company save by not putting in the safety valve? Can anyone with loads of money start an energy company and shirk its social responsibility to the public it is supposed to serve? What if the same gas company makes political contributions to help people get elected into office? Does this influence the elected official to not investigate the energy company? Is that socially responsible? To give us perspective, four months of this gas release is equivalent to 100% of the total energy needs of the entire state of California, the worlds 6th largest economy. 100,000 pounds are spewed every hour since October 23, 2015. Every hour on the hour.
What message does this send to people? 'Hey, if you have the money and a really big infrastructure you can cut corners! Just kick the ball down the field! Payoff the politicians to look elsewhere. No one will know.'
Sweeping it under the rug
Having safety mechanisms is important. Machines break down. Mechanical failure happens all the time. Safety over profit is important and socially responsible. This is the same as a pharmaceutical company continuing to be allowed to cut corners and use heavy metals as 'preservatives' in vaccines that are administered to infants, children and adults, instead of going back to the laboratory to create vaccines that won't cause such wide-spread damage on the people. Not all that get vaccinated 'become autistic,' so let us continue to pump out vaccines with harmful ingredients. After all, consider all the people who will not get polio or a horrible disease this year because they got vaccinated. Yet, heavy metals introduced to an infants (anyone's) developing brain rips and shreds it. Let's sweep the truth under the rug and say that more good comes out of this than bad.
What was the rationale in thinking for the gas company all these years? If they knew that their cutting corners could affect not just the local communities of Burbank but cause horrible damage on people why did they continue to look the other way? How much would it have cost to put in a safety valve? With the heavy metal in vaccines example, how much money and labor would have to go into creating vaccines that are free of heavy metals? Let's sweep it under the rug and someone else will deal with it down the road. Let's bribe our way forward so that making profit is more important than the safety of the people.
Now we have a big mess. 1,700 homes have had to be evacuated. What messages do we send to ourselves and younger generations when we sweep things under the rug? Can we expect better from our youth? This is not about vilifying an energy company or the pharmaceutical industry. This is about how we go about our process.
The means justify the ends, not the other way around. Long-term safety is more important than making short-term profit.
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