A mysterious toxic plume of methane, estimated to be about 300 metric tons, was released somewhere north of Gainesville, Florida, in early May, eventually reached Jacksonville, according to Bloomberg, citing new satellite data from Bluefield Technologies Inc.
Yotam Ariel, the founder of Bluefield, said, satellites can now track climate change and aid researchers in finding out who released the plume of methane a couple of months back.
So far, no energy or industrial company in the area has come forward about the methane discharge.
Stanford University professor Adam Brandt said the methane is likely from an “industrial facility, power plant, or gas compression or handling system,” calling it, “a significant leak.”
The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department told Bloomberg they’re “unaware of any incidents that may have contributed to methane emissions.”
Bloomberg dug around and found that Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) requested an exemption on its air permits on April 24 to replace a steam turbine generator at its J.R. Kelly power plant, which is about 12 miles south from where the methane cloud was spotted.
GRU has yet to disclose when the turbine was replaced. Also near where the plume was detected, the utility company has at least two more power plants, one that runs on natural gas and another on coal.
In the same area, Energy Transfer LP’s Florida Gas Transmission has natural gas pipelines and compressor stations. The energy company didn’t report any planned releases or disruptions in early May.
Underneath the area of where the plume was spotted is land owned by forest products company Weyerhauser Co. Christine Berish, development review manager for Alachua County’s Department of Growth, said the forestry company “doesn’t have development projects in that area.”
How the toxic plume was released remains a mystery.