Los Angeles County officials overwhelmingly agreed Tuesday, July 27, to write a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates operations at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, asking the commission to prevent SoCalGas from extending the facility’s storage capacity. The vote comes after a consortium of oil corporations petitioned the CPUC to increase Aliso Canyon’s permitted gas inventory from its current level.
Despite several predictions and comments that the loss of Aliso Canyon as a natural gas storage facility would have an impact on regional supply, no gas shortage has occurred. “The health and environmental implications from the 2015 disaster are still not completely understood,” according to a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district covers the Aliso Canyon area. The root cause analysis’ findings put doubt on the site operator’s capacity to safely manage the facility.
Since 2015, when 109,000 metric tonnes of methane were spilled into the air, residents of the San Fernando Valley have been living with the effects of the gas leak. Residents reported nosebleeds, disorientation, and respiratory difficulties after nearly 8,300 families were evacuated. Former California Governor Jerry Brown issued an order in 2017 directing the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to phase out the Aliso Canyon facility within ten years.
A year later, a $119.5 million settlement was made with the gas company by various government entities, including the city attorney’s office, the County, and the state attorney general. “We worked with independent experts and state regulators to redesign Aliso Canyon and all of our storage facilities to be state of the art,” a SoCalGas spokeswoman said in a statement. SoCalGas’ storage facilities are now the safest in the country thanks to these industry-leading enhancements.”