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SoCal Gas Announces $119.5 Million Gas Leak Settlement
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Aug. 8 that the company has entered into a settlement agreement with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, the County of Los Angeles, the California Office of the Attorney General, and the California Air Resources Board to resolve all of their outstanding claims against the company related to the 2015-2016 natural gas leak at its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. Under the terms of the $119.5 million settlement agreement, SoCalGas will, among other things, reimburse city, county, and state governments for costs associated with their response to the leak; establish a program with CARB to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak; and fund local environmental benefit projects to be administered by the government parties.
The parties had submitted a tentative consent decree to the Los Angeles County Superior Court the same day to settle the litigation over the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak. At least 109,000 metric tons of methane emissions were released during the leak at Aliso Canyon, according to CARB.
"SoCalGas is delivering on our commitment to the governor and the people of California to fully mitigate the methane emissions from the leak at our Aliso Canyon facility," said Bret Lane, president and chief operating officer of SoCalGas. "The settlement will also help California meet its ambitious climate goals by advancing projects that capture methane from dairy farms and waste and convert that energy into renewable natural gas for use in transportation. SoCalGas is pleased to have worked with the Attorney General's Office, the Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles City Attorney, and the County of Los Angeles to resolve these matters for the people of California."
SoCalGas also has agreed to continue its fence line methane monitoring program and hire an independent ombudsman to monitor and report on safety at the facility.
In July 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission cleared the company to resume limited injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility; according to the company, state regulators and independent experts at DOE national labs have called the safety review conducted at Aliso Canyon the most comprehensive in the nation. New regulations require that gas flows only through newly installed and pressure-tested inner steel tubing, and the outer casing of wells will serve only as a secondary layer of protection. At the state's direction, the field will be operated at a reduced pressure, providing an added margin of safety.
SoCalGas said it has introduced other industry-leading technology and practices at Aliso Canyon, including:
- Around-the-clock pressure monitoring of all wells in a 24-hour operations center
- Daily patrols to visually examine every well four times each day
- Daily scanning of each well, using sensitive infrared thermal imaging cameras that can detect leaks
- Enhanced training for our employees and contractors
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing natural gas service to 21.8 million customers in central and southern California.