Climate change: Biggest methane gas leak occurred at Russian coal mine, reports say

The world’s largest methane leak appears to have occurred at a coal mine in Russia, media reported citing satellite data. It comes as the world seeks to take action to reduce emissions to control climate change. In January, about 90 tons of methane were released per hour from the Raspadskaya mine in Kemerovo oblast. It is the largest coal mine in Russia. The release is enough to run about five coal-fired power plants. If this quantity of gas could have been used all year round, it would have been enough to supply 2.4 million homes.

The gas leak was first located at the source in January, according to GHGSat data. It is a commercial satellite monitoring company based in Canada. The company believes this is the largest leak ever attributed to a single source.

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About 13 distinct methane plumes have been measured from the mine. Their size ranged from 658 to 17,994 kg per hour, GHGSat said.

“We are seeing an increase in methane from this site in general, which could be the result of an increase in coal production, linked to global trends in coal use,” said Brody Wight, director of the Energy, Landfills and Mining at GHGSat.

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Now the mine appears to be losing gas at a low rate. The leak also appears to have taken place for about six months prior to the January investigation.

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(With agency contributions)

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Teresa H. Sadler