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Residents Outraged After Notorious Gas Storage Site Suffers Yet Another Leak

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RICHARD VOGEL
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RICHARD VOGEL

The natural gas storage field in California that last year experienced the largest methane leak in U.S. history suffered another leak over the weekend that was quickly stopped, officials reported Wednesday.

The minor and nonhazardous leak at Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon storage facility was discovered Saturday but made public Wednesday, according to published reports. Crews isolated the leak and repairs were made Sunday.

“This was a very small leak and did not present a safety risk to SoCalGas employees or nearby communities,” Melissa Bailey, SoCalGas spokeswoman, said in a statement. SoCalGas didn’t notify residents or the media of the leak, because of the minor nature of the release, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Just Months After The Largest Natural Gas Leak In U.S. History, Porter Ranch Is Hit With Another…Climate by CREDIT: AP Photo/Brian Melley Porter Ranch already experienced the largest recorded natural gas leak in U.S…thinkprogress.orgA SoCalGas well at the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, located some 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, released some 97,100 metric tons of methane from late October to February. This created the largest known human-caused source of methane in the country. Thousands of families from the nearby neighborhood of Porter Ranch were evacuated as residents suffered the temporary harms of exposure to natural gas and other contaminants. Because natural gas is colorless and odorless, it is treated with other chemicals as a safety measure, and some people exposed to it can experience headaches, nausea, weakness, and fatigue.

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At its worst, the leak rate exceeded that of the next largest point source of methane in the U.S. — an underground coal mine in Alabama — by a factor of two, and was comparable to emission rates of significant oil and gas production regions in the country. Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, which means even minor leakage rates can have a large effect on how much heat gets trapped in the atmosphere. Moreover, methane emissions have been climbing as the country is moving away from coal energy often in favor of natural gas.

The recent Aliso Canyon leak may have been minor, but it’s just the latest for the controversial facility that Porter Ranch residents and environmental activists want shut. In April, nearby residents complained of a natural gas smell that ended up being a leak from a third party company that also operates at the Aliso Canyon site. “This is horrible,” Porter Ranch resident Gabriel Khanlian told ThinkProgress back in April. “This issue is not over with in any way.” There are 113 natural gas storage wells at the Aliso Canyon site. It is the largest natural gas storage facility west of the Mississippi, but there are roughly 400 others like it in the country.

The Massive Methane Blowout In Aliso Canyon Was The Largest in U.S. HistoryClimate by CREDIT: AP Photo/Richard Vogel When the massive methane gas leak in Aliso Canyon was discovered in…thinkprogress.orgResidents and environmentalists are now once again advocating for the closure of the former oil field, which was converted into the storage facility in 1972. “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, in a statement. “Nothing less than the permanent shutdown of Aliso Canyon will give our community the peace of mind it deserves.”

SoCalGas and state regulators have said that closing Aliso Canyon could create blackouts during the hot Southern California summer months, but experts and environmentalists have criticized those assertions.