LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The City Council today directed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to create a timeline for the shutdown of the natural gas-powered Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley.
Council President Nury Martinez formally called for the shutdown of the plant in October following reports of methane gas leaks at the plant that took place over a year-long period.
“I thank my council colleagues for joining me in this effort to protect Sun Valley and the Northeast Valley communities that for decades have had their environmental justice concerns minimized or ignored while solutions are offered in more affluent coastline communities,'' Martinez said.
“Today's vote puts Sun Valley first and is an environmental justice victory for the entire Northeast San Fernando Valley,'' she said. “The Sun Valley Generating Station needs to close before any others are even considered with a timeline on when that should happen.''
The motion was passed unanimously without discussion.
Councilman Paul Krekorian said when the issue was discussed last week at a committee hearing that people who care about having cleaner air in their neighborhood will support the council's actions to decommission the plant.
But he also said the council will have to make some difficult decisions to achieve the shutdown of the Valley Generating Station and other gas-fired power plants while keeping the city's energy levels adequate.
“I hope that people will continue to monitor this and realize that when we have to make those hard choices, this is the reason,'' Krekorian said during the Nov. 17 council committee hearing. “The reason that we make those hard choices is exactly so that we can decommission old, gas-fired power plants that people do not want in their neighborhoods ... So I just call upon everybody who cares about this issue, stay engaged.''
In late August, DWP officials told the utility's Board of Commissioners about methane gas leaks at the plant that began in July 2019, information that was not previously shared with the local community or area representatives.
Martinez said the disclosure “outraged'' her, northeast San Fernando Valley residents and organizations like Pacoima Beautiful.
Since then, the DWP has substantially repaired the leak, but the facility still poses a threat to the health of residents in an area that is already one of the most environmentally affected in the state, Martinez said.
Data by CalEnviroScreen show that low-income communities bear the brunt of pollution in Los Angeles and throughout the state, and Martinez said she and her colleagues also support Mayor Eric Garcetti's Green New Deal for the city, which includes cutting in half the number of communities in the east San Fernando Valley that are ranked in the top third of affected communities by CalEnviroScreen.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ranks Sun Valley as being in the 95th percentile of the state's affected communities on the CalEnviroscreen tool.
Sun Valley is bordered by freeways and also contains numerous garbage dumps and other industrial facilities. The concentration of harmful land uses in the neighborhood has a cumulative effect on the health of nearby residents, Martinez said.
In September, the DWP said the Valley Generating Station leak had been mostly repaired and that the emissions were considered low.
But the utility also stated, “...We are very sensitive to the concerns of local residents in the Northeast Valley and want to assure the community that (DWP) is working on immediate interim steps to address the situation,'' which includes minimizing the use of the plant as much as possible.
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