San Francisco—Porter Ranch area residents talked to Governor Gavin Newsom at the California Democratic Convention today and asked him to take swift action to close the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, operated by SoCalGas, as he promised to do on the campaign trail a year ago.
Gov. Newsom told Food & Water Watch volunteers and north San Fernando Valley residents Jane Fowler and Deirdre Bolona that while he still wants to shut down the facility, he could not say when. Fowler and Bolona, who along with hundreds of their neighbors continue to be sickened by the worst gas blowout in U.S. history, requested a meeting with the governor.
View the exchange here: https://youtu.be/N4i8hYh6KHA
On May 17, an independent report by Blade Energy Partners for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), found that Aliso Canyon operator SoCalGas has been grossly negligent for decades, failing to investigate small leaks, before one of the aging pipe blew in 2015 releasing more than 100,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere. Thousands of families were relocated for months and many experience health symptoms to this day, according to Food and Water Watch.
The CPUC, in consultation with DOGGR and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, selected Blade Energy Partners in January 2016 to perform an independent analysis of the leak’s root cause to inform parallel investigations underway by the CPUC and DOGGR.Blade’s report was issued to the public and is available on the CPUC’s Aliso Canyon webpageat www.cpuc.ca.gov/aliso.
Among Blade’s findings:
The leak’s direct cause was a rupture of the outer 7-inch well casing due to microbial corrosion from the outside resulting from contact with groundwater.
SoCalGas did not conduct detailed follow-up inspections or analyses after previous leaks.
Blade identified more than 60 casing leaks at Aliso Canyon before the October 2015 incident going back to the 1970s, but no failure investigations were conducted by SoCalGas.\
SoCalGas lacked any form of risk assessment focused on well integrity management and lacked systematic practices of external corrosion protection and a real-time, continuous pressure monitoring system for well surveillance.
Updated well safety practices and regulations adopted by DOGGR address most of the rootcauses of the leak identified during Blade’s investigation
While CPUC and DOGGR’s initial assessment is that measures taken to date address the Bladereport’s findings and recommendations, the analysis will be used to further improve regulations and overall gas storage facility oversight practices as appropriate.
Blade’s report will also inform parallel investigations being conducted by the CPUC and DOGGR. Those investigations are focusing on overall well and field operations and are expected to be completed later this year. Technical expertise will be provided from the Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories (National Labs).
The CPUC will hold a public meeting in Southern California in June or July to provide an opportunity for Blade to present and discuss the report with the public.
Since the leak, the CPUC and DOGGR said they have taken “aggressive steps” to prevent a similar leak from occurring again, including DOGGR’s stringent new regulations for all underground natural gas storage reservoirs. Enacted immediately after the leak began and made permanent on October 1, 2018, the regulations ensure that no single point of failure in a well can cause a release of gas into the atmosphere.
The CPUC and DOGGR said they have also issued other directives to SoCalGas both immediately after and since the leak. DOGGR and the CPUC required SoCalGas to complete a rigorous comprehensive safety review before reopening.
“Each well was required to either pass a battery of tests to potentially be eligible to resume gas injection or be taken out of operation and isolated from the reservoir (test results). The utility was also ordered to conduct air sampling surveys of the neighborhoods surrounding the storage field, and to equip active wells with real-time air pressure monitors,” according to the CPUC and DOGGR.
The regulatory agencies sent a joint letter to SoCalGas seeking additional information they believe is relevant to Blade’s analysis. The letter, as well as a video from Blade discussing thereport, and the report itself, are available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/aliso. Supplemental attachments toBlade’s report will be posted to the same webpage on May 31, 2019.
The CPUC also has a proceeding underway to determine the feasibility of minimizing or eliminating the use of Aliso Canyon while still maintaining energy and electric reliability for the Los Angeles region. Subscribe to documents related to the proceeding at http://subscribecpuc.cpuc.ca.gov/ using proceeding number I.17-02-002, or visit the proceeding webpage at www.cpuc.ca.gov/AlisoOII.
Extensive information about Aliso Canyon regulatory actions, including real-time well testing results, are available at DOGGR’s Aliso Canyon webpage,https://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/Pages/AlisoCanyon.aspx.