Porter Ranch during gas-leak emergency. Photo via scpr.org
Porter Ranch during gas-leak emergency. Photo via scpr.org

More than a dozen residents from Porter Ranch and the surrounding neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley are asking the City Council to support closing the Aliso Canyon gas storage field.

A four-month leak that began in October 2015 at the facility in Porter Ranch emitted 109,000 metric tons of methane and displaced thousands of residents.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in November to ask regulators to deny Southern California Gas Co.’s request to resume injecting natural gas into wells at Aliso Canyon until the feasibility of closing the storage facility can be assessed, and the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted in favor of permanently closing the facility.

The residents asked the council to take a similar action, and held a rally outside the Van Nuys City Hall before the meeting. The council had no items on the agenda regarding Aliso Canyon and the residents all spoke during the open public comment period.

The state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and California Public Utilities Commission will determine whether the conditions have been met to resume operations.

“We are here to ask you to please pass a resolution, as the L.A. Unified School District has, that says you would like to see this not reopened and you would like to decommission this facility,” said Marcia Hanscom of the Ballona Institute, an environmental group.

Several residents who spoke were critical of Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents Porter Ranch, and said he has been unresponsive to their needs. Englander was not present at the council meeting and could not be reached for comment.

“We are very concerned that the council hasn’t taken a voice yet to support shutting down Aliso Canyon,” Alexandra Nagy told the council. “The L.A. Unified School District did, the Board of Supervisors supports rejecting SoCalGas’ plan to reopen. We need you to do the same.”

Southern California Gas Co. asked regulators in November to allow it to inject natural gas into approved wells at Aliso Canyon.

“Over the last year we have made extensive physical upgrades and deployed advanced technologies to enhance safety at Aliso Canyon,” SoCalGas President and Chief Operating Officer Bret Lane said at the time.

“These enhancements will further strengthen the facility’s infrastructure, introduce real-time pressure monitoring and enable improved communications with stakeholders. As we move forward, we remain committed to a continuous improvement process.”

—City News Service

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