A state appeals court ruling in California lifted a stay on litigation over the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, clearing the way for the partial reopening of the facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Southern California Gas, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, on Monday resumed injections into Aliso Canyon for the first time since a leak was discovered at the gas storage facility in October 2015.
- The California Public Utilities Commission last month approved the reopening of the gas storage facility at “a greatly reduced capacity.”
After the worst methane leak in U.S. history, the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility is set to reopen. The facility has a total storage capacity of 86 billion cubic feet. After the leak was discovered, storage levels fell to 15 Bcf and withdrawals were not allowed, except with regulatory approval.
In a recent ruling the California PUC limited injections to 23.6 Bcf and said that withdrawals are limited to times when the gas would be needed for reliability or when all other fields are full usage. The PUC also directed SoCal Gas to maintain their other gas storage facilities at maximum capacity.
Los Angeles County had filed a suit against SoCal Gas and state regulators seeking an injunction to bar the reopening the facility and arguing that the approval for the reopening was rushed. The county’s complaint called plans to reopen the facility “highly troubling and irresponsible.”
The gas leak, the largest in U.S. history, resulted in the escape of about 100,000 Bcf of gas that sickened thousands of people in the northwestern San Fernando Valley and resulted in the temporary relocation of about 8,300 households.
Over the weekend, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Wiley denied the county's request for an injunction. But the county is not giving up. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told the Los Angeles Daily News that the county intends to fight the reopening of Aliso Canyon and is preparing an appeal.
“Over the last 18 months, Aliso Canyon has undergone what state regulators have called the most comprehensive safety review in the country. We have met — and in many cases, exceeded — the rigorous requirements of the state's safety review,” Chris Gilbride, a spokesman for SoCal Gas, told the Los Angeles Times.