LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pledged today to work to ensure early detection of future leaks after the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued the utility a notice of violation, alleging the utility's failure to properly maintain equipment at its Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley resulted in a methane leak detected last summer.
The AQMD announced the notice of violation late Thursday, saying the agency learned on Aug. 26 of an ongoing methane leak at the natural gas-powered plant and conducted an on-site inspection of the DWP facility.
“While the level of emissions detected prior to the repairs is considered very low in comparison to numerous other emissions sources, we know that a leak of any amount is of concern to neighbors and local residents in the Northeast Valley,'' the DWP said in a statement released Friday morning.
“We have taken the necessary steps to remedy the situation and will remain vigilant in undertaking repairs when they are needed and monitoring the compressors and other related equipment to ensure early detection when problems arise.''
Using an optical gas imaging camera and other hand-held equipment, methane emissions in excess of 100,000 parts per million were detected coming from the vents of two natural gas compressors, according to Nahal Mogharabi, the AQMD's communications director.
The AQMD had not received any prior public complaints concerning odors from the facility, nor were any leaks reported, according to the agency.
The AQMD then deployed its mobile monitoring platform to evaluate methane levels in Sun Valley. Results from those measurements showed methane readings within typical background levels.
Air samples collected on-site showed elevated levels of methane within the perimeter of the facility. AQMD inspectors returned to the facility on a weekly basis through the end of the year and have verified that LADWP has repaired the leaking equipment, Mogharabi said.
According to the utility's statement, “Final repairs to the compressors, using customized seals, were completed in December 2020. The leak has been completely stopped.''
“LADWP addressed the issue last fall by taking the compressors offline in August and then subsequently making emergency, temporary repairs in September to reduce the emissions by 95%,'' the statement says.
A notice of violation can result in fines.
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 25 to direct the DWP to create a timeline for the shutdown of the 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.
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.
By November, the DWP had substantially repaired the leak, but Martinez said then that the facility still posed a threat to the health of residents in an area that is already one of the most environmentally affected in the state.
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