December 6, 2022

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One mine every hour emits tons of methane.  The scale of the leak is terrifying

One mine every hour emits tons of methane. The scale of the leak is terrifying

There is a coal mine in southern Russia, which turns out to be the source of one of the highest rates of methane emissions from a single site. Every hour, approximately 90 tons of this greenhouse gas are released into the atmosphere from there.

The aforementioned mine is called Raspadskaya and is located near the city of Mezhdurechensk. Related emissions were detected by satellite observations that revealed the presence of 13 separate methane plumes. This is particularly concerning given that methane’s global warming potential over a 100-year period is about 30 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

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Canada’s GHGSat orbits a constellation of six satellites that use a high-resolution spectrophotometer to detect gas from high altitudes. The accuracy of such a method is so impressive that it allows a detailed determination of the source of the emission. It was these satellites that led to the discovery of methane deposits that hit the atmosphere in southern Russia.

The Raspadskaya mine includes a large complex of tunnels with a total length of 350 km. Coke is mined there. Methane leaks from these sites are nothing new of course, but in most cases they are much weaker and do not exceed one ton of methane emissions per hour. In this case, this value was exceeded dozens of times.

Raspadskaya mine is located in southern Russia

In January this year, a leak in a Russian mine could lead to emissions of up to 87 tons per hour. By the end of the year, total emissions in this calculation could reach up to 764,000 tons. This amount of methane can be used to power 2.4 million homes all year round. To date, the famous record holder in this category has been the Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles, which released methane into the atmosphere at a rate of 58 tons per hour.

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The owner of the Raspadskaya mine, Evraz, denies the Canadians’ allegations. The miner said the numbers were unrealistic. According to the Russians, the total amount of methane emitted from the mine last year amounted to 402 thousand tons. On January 14, 2022, the rate of emission was 6.45 tons of methane per hour. Another problem with these types of emission sources is that they remain active even after the mines themselves are closed.