Residents Mark Anniversary of Aliso Canyon Gas Leak

The activists, carrying signs and chanting slogans, also continue to press for the permanent closure of the facility.

PORTER RANCH (CNS) - A group of Porter Ranch-area residents and activists gathered outside the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility today to mark the four-year anniversary of a gas leak that forced thousands of people from their homes and became the largest methane release in U.S. history.

The activists, carrying signs and chanting slogans, also continue to press for the permanent closure of the facility.

“What do you see back there? You see burnt hills inside of a gas facility, and that place is still open,” said Matt Pakucko of the residents' group Save Porter Ranch. “What's wrong with this picture?”

Pakucko and others taking part in the rally said residents are still suffering from health issues stemming from the leak that began in October 2015 and took roughly four months to cap.

The gas leak, which was discovered at the underground storage facility in October 2015 and continued emanating methane until February 2016, poured an estimated 109,000 tons of methane into the air. Thousands of residents in the northwest San Fernando Valley were forced out of their homes for months due to the leak.

Limited operations resumed at the 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.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Councilman John Lee introduced a motion requesting a report detailing the findings of the regulatory investigations of the facility and the actions that have been taken since the leak.

“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.”

Southern California Gas Co., which operates the facility, has repeatedly stood by the facility's operation and the safety upgrades and repairs that have been completed since the leak.

“In the months after the leak was stopped, SoCalGas and state regulators, who worked in consultation with independent experts at the U.S. 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,” according to a statement released by the company earlier this year.

According to a report released on May 17, the Aliso Canyon gas leak 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.

Photo: Rob Newton

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