Negligence to blame in Porter Ranch, AQMD says

porter-ranch-well-earthworks.jpgThe South Coast Air Quality Management District on Tuesday sued Southern California Gas over the three-month old natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon, saying the utility was negligent in the design and operation of the leaking gas well. The lawsuit will attempt to ding SoCal Gas for each day of the leak, up to $250,000 in civil penalties per day. The utility is drilling a relief well and is now within 200 feet of the leaking well, but says that even the most optimistic view has the methane gas continuing to escape into the atmosphere well into February. Porter Ranch residents, businesses and the city have so far sued over the disruption, health threats and loss of business blamed on the leak. Gov.. Jerry Brown has declared the calamity a disaster area. Now the AQMD comes in from the air pollution side. The amount of methane to escape so far is considered a major contributor of greenhouse gases.

From the LA Times coverage:

According to the lawsuit, the air quality agency has received more than 2,000 odor complaints from those living and working near the Aliso Canyon facility.

The lawsuit comes days after the agency approved a comprehensive abatement order that requires the gas company to permanently shut down the damaged well, establish a leak detection system and conduct an independent health study.

From the Daily News coverage:

“It’s a complaint for civil penalties for creating a public nuisance for the gas leak near Porter Ranch,” said Kurt Wiese, general counsel for the air district based in Diamond Bar, who has worked for the agency for more than two decades. “It’s certainly the most significant public nuisance I’ve seen in my career.”


Since the gas company acknowledged a natural leak at its Aliso Canyon Storage Facility on Oct. 23, more than 2,000 residents have complained about the telltale fumes. Many reported experiencing headaches, dizziness, vomiting, nosebleeds and other symptoms public health officials blame on odor detection agents in the gas....

Nearly 3,000 households, containing an estimated 9,000 residents, have been relocated along with two elementary schools at gas company expense, with nearly 2,000 households on a waiting list.

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