Federal, State and Local Leaders Decry Gas Company’s Disaster Decades in the Making After Aliso Canyon Blowout Root Cause Found to be Uninspected, Corroded Wells

Friday, May 17, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 17, 2019

Media contact:

Josh.Kirmsse@sen.ca.gov

916-651-4483

 

Federal, State and Local Leaders Decry Gas Company’s Disaster Decades in the Making After Aliso Canyon Blowout Root Cause Found to be Uninspected, Corroded Wells

 

CALIFORNIA – Federal, state and local elected leaders today issued the following statements in response to the Aliso Canyon root cause analysis:

“This long awaited root cause analysis is alarming.  SoCalGas and the agencies tasked with overseeing them failed to anticipate foreseeable risks to the people of the San Fernando Valley and ratepayers throughout the southland, in the decades leading up to the Aliso Canyon blowout,” said Senator Henry Stern (SD-27). “We will be following up with a legislative oversight hearing to delve deeper into this report, but at present, it seems obvious that the CPUC should not force ratepayers to foot the bill for this avoidable disaster, and that the injuries to our community, its residents and our first responders can be attributed to the Gas Company’s careless maintenance of this massive fossil fuel facility in our backyards.”

“The most concerning part of the Root Cause Analysis is how easily preventable this disaster could and should have been,” said Congresswoman Katie Hill (CA-25). “There is no excuse for the damage it has done to our communities and our environment — and we have to ensure that we adopt all methods available to us, including those laid out in the report, to ensure nothing similar ever occurs again. I stand with our community as we fight for corporate accountability every single time and at every step of the way.”

“The losses caused by the leak should be borne by the shareholders of the Gas Company, not consumers,” said Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30).  “It’s time for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to force SoCal Gas to develop a system that allows for energy reliability for the region, and to shut down Aliso Canyon.”

“As the state Assemblywoman serving the communities at the frontlines of Aliso Canyon disaster, I am gravely concerned by the root cause analysis finding SoCalGas at fault for the 2015 leak,” said Assemblymember Christy Smith (AD-38).” I stand with my colleagues in calling for an oversight hearing. I urge the CPUC and DOGGR to consider the significant findings in this report and take every measure to ensure that ratepayers are protected from liability and that going forward the health and safety of the community is the paramount focus. “

“What we found out today is tragic. This leak could have been avoided with additional safety measures and inspections,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (AD-43). “We will be reviewing the Divisions of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resource’s regulations to ensure that they address the issues raised in the root cause analysis.  Our communities and our climate cannot afford another gas storage leak.” 

“The root cause analysis is troubling, and reinforces what we’ve always known—that San Fernando Valley residents and ratepayers shouldn’t be forced to pay the price because someone else dropped the ball,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (AD-45).

"The Root Cause Analysis demonstrates that SoCalGas, and state regulators, could have done more to prevent the disastrous Aliso Canyon gas leak and to avoid the significant impacts it had on the community," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.  "The report finds that once the leak started, SoCalGas should have been able to stop it sooner.  The County urges immediate adoption of all recommended mitigation measures in the report to make sure that a similar disaster can never happen again. We will also continue to participate in the Public Utilities Commission proceedings regarding the future of Aliso Canyon."

“For months, LA County residents in the Aliso Canyon area had to live in hotels, seek medical treatment, and missed days of work and school, because of the terrible Aliso Canyon gas leak,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Today we learned that all of that illness and disruption was due to SoCal Gas’ failure to adequately inspect and maintain their wells. SoCal Gas must be held responsible, not their rate payers.”

Among their conclusions, Blade Energy Partners found that proper modeling, which SoCalGas did not conduct until its seventh attempt to control the well in December, could have successfully controlled the well as early as November 13. The report also highlights significant evidence that SoCalGas was aware of corrosion issues at the facility for decades prior.

A 1988 interoffice memo suggested inspecting 20 wells originally completed in the 1940s and 1950s, including the well that ruptured in the 2015 leak (SS-25). Seven wells were inspected within a two-year window and five showed significant external corrosion— but the remaining 13, including SS-25, were not examined. Moreover, Blade found no documentation to indicate that the five wells with external corrosion were investigated to determine cause of the corrosion.

Blade identified a number of root causes for the 111-day leak, including lack of detailed follow-up investigations after over 60 casing leaks prior to 2015, lack of risk assessment focused on wellbore integrity management and lack of systematic practices of external corrosion protection for surface casing strings. The full report is available to the public at www.cpuc.ca.gov/aliso/.

 

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