LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles City Councilmember John Lee called for a report that details the findings of the regulatory investigations of the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility and the actions that have been taken since a 2015 blowout led to the largest-known human-caused release of methane in US history.
“While regulatory jurisdiction of the facility lies with the state, given the impact of the blowout on city residents, it is important that the City Council receive a comprehensive report on the status of the facility, the settlement agreement and regulatory proceedings and reports,” Lee said. “This report back will help the city determine what additional actions need to be taken in conjunction with the closure to protect residents from similar incidents in the future.”
Calls to the Southern California Gas Co., which operates the facility, were not immediately returned.
But in a statement earlier this year, the utility said: “In the months after the leak was stopped, SoCalGas and state regulators, who worked in consultation with independent experts at the US Department of Energy’s National Labs, conducted a comprehensive safety review at Aliso Canyon. That review and safety enhancements SoCalGas completed have been recognized as the most rigorous and comprehensive in the nation.”
Lee, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley, requested a review of the findings of the state’s Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, specifically regarding safety of the gas wells, along with emissions, geologic and seismic reports.
He also requested the California Public Utilities Commission’s investigations into the storage facility’s operations and practices, as well as investigations into eliminating Aliso Canyon from the region’s energy portfolio.
Lee also wants the Los Angeles Fire Department to conduct annual briefings with SoCalGas, and to explore whether the LAFD could conduct fire safety drills and training at the facility, which is located less than a mile from the residential community of Porter Ranch.
According to a report released on May 17, the Aliso Canyon gas leak that displaced thousands of residents was caused by microbial corrosion of a well casing, and SoCalGas did not conduct detailed follow-up inspections or analyses after previous leaks.
The report was conducted by Blade Energy Partners, which was tapped in 2016 by the CPUC and the state Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to perform an independent analysis of the leak’s root cause.
SoCalGas operators working at the Aliso Canyon facility first reported the leak on Oct. 23, 2015, and by the time state officials announced that it was permanently plugged, nearly four months later, about 97,100 metric tons of methane had been released into the atmosphere.
Air quality samples collected near Aliso Canyon at the start of the leak showed elevated levels of pollutants known or suspected to be associated with serious health problems, according to a UCLA Fielding School of Public Health-led study released in June.
In a post-leak community survey, 63 percent of households reported that someone in their home had experienced symptoms persisting after the leak was plugged, including headaches, nausea, and gastrointestinal or respiratory problems, according to UCLA.
Limited operations resumed at the storage facility in late July 2017 with the blessing of state regulators. Efforts by Los Angeles County officials to block the resumed operations failed in court.