ZME Science reported that a satellite has detected what could possibly be the world’s biggest leak of methane from a single industrial site, an underground coal mine in south-central Russia. While more short lived than CO2, methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and is immensely important for planet’s climate. A satellite managed by GHGSat, a commercial emissions-monitoring firm, observed thirteen plumes of methane at the Raspadskya mine, the largest coal mine in Russia in late January. About 90 tonnes per hour of the greenhouse gas was being released from the mine. This would be enough to produce natural gas to power 2.4 million homes.The mine seems to be leaking methane at a lower rate now, about a third of the highest rate recorded in July, but it’s still an important methane contributor. Furthermore, the leak is believed to have been active for at least six months before January’s survey. GHGSat said the leak is about 50% bigger than any other leak seen since it started its global satellite monitoring back in 2016. Russia hasn’t reported the leak on its end.In 2015, the biggest methane release in US history happened in an underground natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles. GHGSat estimates up to 58 tonnes an hour of methane was released. Three years later, GHGSat identified a malfunctioning oil well in Turkmenistan, which released 142,000 tonnes of methane between 2018 and 2019.Russia is one of the leading sources of methane from fossil fuel extraction. The country’s gas infrastructure, including pipelines and production facilities, has been described as notoriously leaky despite calls to take action. A study last year showed methane emissions from Russian pipelines surged during the coronavirus pandemic. All underground coal mines such as the Raspadskya mine produce methane, which can cause explosions if it accumulates. That’s why methane is usually vented for safety reasons. However, there are ways to capture the greenhouse gas when it’s produced at a high rate or vent it through oxidization, so it causes less harm to the climate.