Politics

State seeks public input on its efforts to stop another Porter Ranch gas leak

The boundary of Southern California Gas Company property, where Aliso Canyon Storage Field is located, is seen as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood on Dec. 22, 2015.
The boundary of Southern California Gas Company property, where Aliso Canyon Storage Field is located, is seen as people continue to be affected by a massive natural-gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood on Dec. 22, 2015.
David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

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State regulators are asking for public input on stricter rules for underground natural gas storage fields after a ruptured gas well leaked for months near Porter Ranch, displacing thousands of residents.

At nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane, the leak was the worst natural gas release in U.S. history. It  prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to issue emergency rules for operating underground gas storage fields.
    
The rules apply to all 12 gas reservoir fields in California, not just the one that leaked at the massive Aliso Canyon gas field in the north end of the San Fernando Valley. Southern California Gas Co. stores gas underground in depleted former oil fields at Aliso Canyon, Santa Clarita, Playa del Rey and in Goleta in Santa Barbara County. 

The company's wells average 52 years old, and dozens are older than the 63-year-old well that failed.  SoCal Gas also has a  gas storage reservoir in Montebello which has been in a multi-year process of shutting down after developing serious  leaks.

The emergency rules have been included in a set of proposed permanent regulations, but before they do, the state is asking for public feedback.
    
Gas storage operators would be required to keep a closer eye on the equipment used to inject and withdraw gas from underground reservoirs. They would have to run more frequent tests of safety valves, too. The Southern California Gas Company well that blew out last October had a broken or missing safety valve.

Gas storage operators would also have to file management plans that describe the risk their wells present to the public and surrounding areas and what companies plan to do in case of an accident.
    
The state's gas storage rules workshop will take comments from the public and have experts on hand to answer questions at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon at the Hilton in Woodland Hills. The public comment period ends Aug. 22.