One Well Capped, 114 to Go
Washington DC –Congressman Brad Sherman, who lives in Porter Ranch, issued the following statement:
“We are all pleased to learn that well SS.25, from which we experienced the largest gas leak in history, has been sealed.
“We should not be declaring victory, as the Aliso Canyon facility and the negligence of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) continue to pose a threat to the community.
“We now need tough new regulations regarding the other 114 wells in the Aliso Canyon facility. We need 24/7 monitoring of each well, shown on a website so the public can see for themselves. We need deep subsurface safety valves on every well.
“The Aliso Canyon facility should continue to be shut down until we know it is safe.
“Residents should not have to return home until the air at the facility, and in a representative sample of homes, has been certified safe by state authorities. SoCalGas just announced that residents need to return by next Thursday even though truly thorough testing, including indoor air testing, has not yet been completed.
“This leak resulted from the negligence of SoCalGas. None of the costs should be passed through to customers. SoCalGas’s insurance rates will go up, and none of that increase should be passed through to customers.
“Our office got the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to make Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to businesses that have been hurt by the leak. Loans of up to $2 million, at up to a 4% rate, are available to help businesses make payroll and pay operating expenses. Businesses can contact us at (818) 501-9200 or go to BradSherman.house.gov.
“And finally, the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) should use its existing authority to regulate the storage of natural gas. If PHMSA does not exercise their authority, I have introduced legislation, the Gas Storage Safety Act, which would direct PHMSA to implement tough federal safety standards for gas storage.”
See the attachment regarding testing the air before telling residents to return home.
SoCalGas has assisted the relocation of many affected residents and has agreed to give those families eight days to return to their homes. Congressman Sherman urged that the eight day time frame should not begin until the air is tested safe. On February 11th, Sherman wrote to the Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Air Resources Board urging that the air quality in the Porter Ranch community be thoroughly tested to ensure that air quality, both around the well and in the Porter Ranch community, has returned to normal.
February 12, 2016
Mr. Kenneth Harris
State Oil and Gas Supervisor
Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources
801 K Street, MS 18-05
Sacramento, CA 95814-3530
Dear Mr. Harris:
I am pleased to see you have released a multi-step process to confirm that Aliso Canyon storage facility’s SS.25 is permanently sealed. I am particularly happy to learn that gas emissions at and around the surface of the leaking well will be measured to verify that the well has been sealed.
It would be helpful if you could clarify if anyone will be monitoring air quality in the Porter Ranch community. It is not enough to just test around the surface of the well. Rather, tests of air quality should be run throughout the community. Most importantly, the beginning of the eight-day period for residents to return to their homes should not be triggered until the leak is permanently sealed and the air quality, both around the well and in the Porter Ranch community, returns to normal.
Member of Congress
cc: Dr. William A. Burke, Chairman, South Coast Air Quality Management District
Ms. Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board