On Feb. 18, state regulators confirmed the natural gas leaking well at the Aliso Canyon storage field near Los Angeles has been permanently sealed.
Eleven speakers from nine different state and local agencies jointly made the announcement at a press conference at Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in Chatsworth.
After multiple tests, the Department of Conservation confirmed the leaking well was permanently sealed late Wednesday evening. SoCalGas completed a temporary seal of the well on Feb. 11.
“The Division of Oil and Gas has confirmed that the leak at the Aliso Canyon storage field is permanently sealed,” said Jason Marshall, Chief Deputy Director of Department of Conservation.
Five separate tests were performed to determine if the well has been sealed. The testing process to confirm that the well is sealed was developed in consultation with independent technical experts from the Lawrence Berkeley, Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Conservation explained in a press release.
Testing results can be viewed here.
“As someone who grew up not too far from here I understand the tremendous concern for the safety of families and the community here who have been impacted by this incident,” Marshall said. “Throughout this incident public and environmental safety have been our top priority. We have had staff dedicated on site every day during operations since October to ensure that Southern California Gas Company acted quickly and safely to halt the flow of gas.”
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) also confirmed acceptable air quality. Air measurements collected via air flights, on-site observations and air monitors in nearby communities all confirmed that the leaking gas has diminished. ARB will continue to monitor the site, including frequent flyovers to collect data.
Now that the well is sealed, ARB is also beginning a new program to do flyovers at all of the major gas storage facilities in California.
“We have seen a diminishing trend in the measurements since the well was controlled and the criteria has now been met for three consecutive days,” said Bart Croes, Chief of Research at ARB.
Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the Interim Health Officer at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, requested extending monitoring for at least 30 days from his department to assure safe conditions.
“All the levels that we’ve looked at are below the levels of health concern,” Dr. Guzenhauser said. “So we do not anticipate that there will be any long-term health effects resulting from this.”
Today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the city’s Local Assistance Center at the Mason Recreation Center, creating a centralized location where residents and businesses can access programs and services from a variety of agencies to help facilitate the transition for residents.
“We can breathe a sigh of relief that finally the leak is permanently stopped,”
Mayor Garcetti said in a press release. “Our residents and businesses can now begin the process of returning home and getting back to their normal routines. We know there are questions and concerns moving forward, and we are going to be there every step of the way to ensure this transition is as seamless and painless as possible.”
SoCalGas, which owns and operates the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch, was unable to stop the leak after it was discovered on Oct. 23.
Damage to the well, also referred to as SS25, caused a leak approximately 500 feet underground. Following that the Los Angeles County Public Health advised a voluntary relocation for Porter Ranch residents and nearby communities. On Jan. 6, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a proclamation for a State of Emergency in Los Angeles County due to the ongoing natural gas leak.
“The gas leak and Aliso Canyon has affected many lives,” said Jeff Reeb, Director of Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management. “Now it’s time to help as many residents, businesses and stakeholders confidently reenter their community and resume their day to day activities.”
The panel of speakers at the Feb. 18 press conference included:
- Mark Ghilarducci, Director, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
- Mark Savage, Public Information Officer, Los Angeles County Fire Department
- Jason Marshall, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Conservation
- Daryl Osby, Fire Chief, Los Angeles County Fire Department
- Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Interim Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
- Melanie Marty, Acting Deputy Director for Scientific Affairs, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
- Michael Picker, President, California Public Utilities Commission
- Robert Weisenmiller, Chair, California Energy Commission
- Bart Croes, Chief of Research, Air Resources Board
- Jeff Reeb, Director, Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management
- Dennis Arriola, President/CEO, SoCalGas
- Gillian Wright, V.P. Customer Services, SoCalGas
Watch the press conference in its entirety here.