Regulators gave Aliso Canyon in Porter Ranch – where one of the largest methane gas leaks occurred – a green light, clearing the way for the gas storage site to begin operating again.
The California Public Utilities Commission and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources gave Southern California Gas clearance to reopen the natural gas storage facility on Wednesday.
“Out of an abundance of caution and consideration for public safety, storage capacity will be restricted to approximately 28 percent of the facility’s maximum capacity – just enough to avoid energy disruptions in the Los Angeles area,” said CPUC Executive Director Timothy Sullivan in a statement.
Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) spoke out against resuming gas injections that resulted in the 2015 methane blowout.
On Wednesday, Stern said there should still be seismic and fire safety analyses and had previously called for a root cause analysis through his stalled Senate Bill 57 to determine the cause of the explosion.
“I would implore them not to rush this reopening,” Stern said in a live Facebook video Wednesday. “I consider it premature and unnecessary.”
There is no rush to reopen the plant, according to Stern, because there is an “oversupply” of gas and power waiting to be used.
The same day, the California Energy Commission urged the commission to close the facility permanently.
“With the state’s climate target in mind, Governor Brown has asked me to plan for the permanent closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, and I urge the California Public Utilities Commission to do the same,” Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller wrote in a letter.
SoCalGas spokesperson Chris Gilbride said providing regular updates and having a consistent dialogue with residents will be important as Aliso Canyon reopens.
“Aliso Canyon is an important part of Southern California’s energy system, supporting the reliability of natural gas and electricity services for millions of people,” Gilbride said in a statement. “SoCalGas has met—and in many cases, exceeded—the rigorous requirements of the state’s comprehensive safety review.”
Moving forward, SoCalGas will monitor wells in a 24-hour operations center, have daily patrols examine wells four times a day, scan wells for leaks each day using thermal imaging cameras and require enhanced training for employees and contractors, according to the spokesperson.
Per state requirements, a leak survey must be conducted and methane emissions must be measured before injections can resume, Gilbride said.