Environment & Science

Lawsuits, costs continue to mount in gas leak

Video from the early days of the blown-out Aliso Canyon natural gas well near Porter Ranch. This video, from late November 2015, shows what became the nation's largest-ever natural gas leak.
Video from the early days of the blown-out Aliso Canyon natural gas well near Porter Ranch. This video, from late November 2015, shows what became the nation's largest-ever natural gas leak.
California Department of Conservation/KPCCRadio (via YouTube)

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Two years after a natural gas well blew open near Porter Ranch, the cost of the nation’s largest-ever accidental gas leak continues to mount. So do the number of lawsuits it's triggered, according to  Southern California Gas Company's third quarter report, released this week.

The cost of the Aliso Canyon gas leak is up to $841 million as of Sept. 30. That’s up $9 million dollars over the last three months, the report said. One of the expenses stemming from the leak is an independent study to pinpoint why the well failed.

Debra Reed, CEO of Sempra, parent of SoCal Gas, said she didn't know when the report would be released. Blade Energy Partners, the outside firm hired to conduct the inquiry, was extracting the well casing from the ground.  The casing is the outer part of the well that ruptured about 400 feet below ground and could be a critical piece of evidence showing why the aging gas well failed.

SoCal Gas said that as of Oct. 26, it was a defendant in 344 gas leak lawsuits, encompassing some 43,800 plaintiffs. That’s up sharply from the 25,500 plaintiffs and 281 lawsuits the company reported in the previous quarter.

The two year period to sue over personal injuries and property damage is coming to a close in the next few months, said attorney Paul Kiesel, who is coordinating the plaintiffs attorneys cases in Superior Court. The leak was discovered Oct. 23, 2015, and the well was sealed in mid-February 2016.