Los Angeles City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez, Paul Krekorian and Council President Nury Martinez have introduced legislation calling for immediate relief and the creation of a trust fund to benefit residents impacted by harmful emissions from the Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley.
This legislation builds on the previous action by Martinez and supported by Rodriguez and Krekorian and others to address the leak.
“The Valley Generating Station is located in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, an area that has endured decades of environmental injustice,” according a released statement. “Neighborhoods in this region have suffered from discriminatory land-use practices, a lack of open space, and an over-concentration of polluting industries.”
In late August, the staff at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) informed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) of a methane gas leak at the Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley. The methane was observed during JPL’s most recent overflights on July 16, 2020, and August 7, 2020, between the hours of 1 pm and 2 pm.
Methane, a colorless, odorless gas that is the main component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps the sun’s heat, warming the earth 86 times as much as the same mass of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
The motion directs the City Attorney to present an ordinance to create an Amenities Trust Fund for residents that live within a three-mile radius of the facility.
It also calls on LADWP to identify potential sources of funding to provide immediate relief for low-income residents living within one mile of the plant through things like indoor air purifiers and air conditioners for homes as well as upgrades to HVAC systems at schools and community facilities.
“Communities like ours have carried the burden of environmental injustice for too long,” Rodriguez said.
“It’s unconscionable that DWP does not have monitoring systems in place to protect the residents. DWP must provide immediate relief and implement emergency protocols to ensure that residents are not exposed to harmful emissions.”
Rodriguez had introduced a motion earlier this month calling for LADWP to expand its air quality monitoring system and implement emergency protocols to ensure that residents are not exposed to harmful emissions.
On Sept. 1, Martinez introduced a motion asking the water district to report back immediately on the leak, develop policies to ensure future leaks do not occur, and improve outreach and communication with the local neighborhood.
LADWP subsequently proposed that it would establish a fence line monitoring program to evaluate future leaks in and around the perimeter of the Valley facility and in the community. It will also work with local nonprofits, schools, and community residents to develop an outreach system to immediately report back on future issues at the plant.
“LADWP needs to show the same respect and consideration for Sun Valley and our Northeast San Fernando communities as they do to the residents of coastal communities and other communities far from the San Fernando Valley,” Martinez said.
“I have challenged them to truly commit to environmental justice and serve and respect our frontline communities who bear the brunt of the benefits the Valley Generating Station provides the entire city.”
Krikorian noted that “For too long, communities like Sun Valley have had to endure all of the burdens that come from being near the generating stations that produce power for the rest of the city.” He added, “LADWP must continue aggressively pursuing its commitment to a carbon-free power supply, so that all gas-fired plants can be shut down for good.”
The motion will return to the LA Council in the coming weeks.