Satellite Spots ‘Largest’ Methane Leak in a Russian Coal Mine

A company that uses satellites to monitor methane leaks from space said it detected the “biggest” methane leak from a coal mine in a remote part of Russia.

According to new data from GHGSat, the Raspadskya Mine in Kemerovo region in southern Russia is spewing about 90 tons of methane every hour, a huge amount of very potent greenhouse gas from a single facility.

“We find large leaks all over the world, but this one stood out,” said Stephane Germain, founder, and president of GHGSat.

Germain added that their satellites detected consistent leaks from the Russian facility throughout the past five months.

Methane is the second-largest contributor to climate change caused by humans, next to carbon dioxide.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “the concentration of methane in the atmosphere is higher now than any time in at least 800,000 years.”

GHGSat scientists said they use six satellites with high-resolution spectrometers to pinpoint the exact source of leaks because methane is difficult to detect as it is invisible and odorless.

“Coal mining emissions have increased significantly in the last year. We’ve seen that in China. We’ve seen that in Russia. We’ve seen that in the United States. We’ve seen that in Australia, and so systematically, to us, this indicates that there’s been an increase in coal production,” Germain said.

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