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Small Leak at SoCalGas' Storage Field Amplifies Concerns

A small pipeline leak was found last Saturday at Southern California Gas Co.'s closed Aliso Canyon underground storage facility and quickly repaired. The discovery has re-invigorated those calling for the permanent closure of the troubled facility.

"Residents are renewing calls to Gov. Jerry Brown to decommission the storage facility and shut it down permanently," said Alexandra Nagy, a spokesperson for Food & Water Watch (F&WW), which is joining residents from nearby Porter Ranch in protest at the 3,600-acre storage field's public entrance on Thursday.

While Nagy told NGI late Wednesday that the leak was still ongoing and some Porter Ranch residents were reporting gas odors and the same side affects that drove them from their homes during a four-month storage well leak that ended in mid-February (see Daily GPIFeb. 18), a SoCalGas spokesperson said the leak was stopped last Sunday without incident.

"Personnel isolated the leak, stopping the flow of gas and repairs were made Sunday. And as a courtesy, state and local regulators and agencies, including the Los Angeles city and county fire departments, were contacted," the Sempra Energy gas utility spokesperson said. "Officials from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources were also at the site and investigated the leak.

"This was a very small leak and did not present a safety risk to [utility] employees or nearby communities."

The leak has been seized upon by activists and concerned residents as another example of why state officials should close the facility permanently (see Daily GPIJune 30).

"SoCalGas continues to demonstrate that the Aliso Canyon storage facility is in disrepair and continues to pose a threat to our community and climate," said Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, who last Friday urged Los Angeles elected officials to push for the closure of the state's largest gas storage field (see Daily GPIJuly 5).

Nagy said her San Diego-based public policy activist group "stands with Porter Ranch families in calling for Gov. Brown to permanently close Aliso Canyon," saying the governor needs to "stand up to SoCalGas."

The anti-storage field movement is making this a litmus test for Brown's decades-old reputation as a climate change and renewable energy leader.

Meanwhile, the testing and mitigation of storage wells at Aliso Canyon is moving ahead, but slowly. As of June 20, only four fully tested, remediated and inspected wells were available for gas withdrawal, according to a California Public Utilities Commission staff report. An additional 17 wells have completed the first of three phases of tests.

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