Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Wednesday the tentative $119.5 million settlement with SoCalGas over the Aliso Canyon gas leak approved by the Board of Supervisors includes vital funding for a health study and independent air quality monitoring.
“Today, we are ensuring justice to the residents of the North San Fernando Valley that is long overdue. For over two and a half years, this community has endured such upheaval,” Barger said.
“At last, we have a comprehensive tentative settlement that meets this community’s and my priorities,” she said. “Since the Aliso Canyon disaster, thousands of residents were displaced from their homes and suffered health concerns.
“This tentative settlement includes the funds necessary to conduct the vital health study, which has been the community’s No. 1 priority as well as mine,” Barger said Wednesday.
“There is $25 million earmarked for the long-term health study, which our residents so desperately need and deserve,” she was quoted as saying in a news release issued Wednesday.
This $25 million is the largest single allocation in this settlement.
The settlement also funds a new independent air monitoring and symptom reporting system, administered and operated by a third party — not the gas company.
“This system will provide much-needed transparency, accountability and ultimately peace of mind to our community,” Barger’s statement said. “We fought aggressively in court to win relocation benefits, reimbursements and home cleaning for residents.”
SoCalGas has issued more than $75 million in reimbursements for temporary relocation to residents and other expenses.
Los Angeles County’s lawsuit put pressure on SoCalGas and regulators, which led to significant testing and safety improvements not only at Aliso Canyon, but also at other gas storage fields in the county.
“My office will be active in the formation and review of the health study and will continue to fight for our Porter Ranch residents,” Barger said.
This tentative settlement could be approved by the court after the next 60 days.
Along with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, the supervisor announced the $119.5 million settlement with the Southern California Gas Co. over the largest natural gas disaster in history, which resulted from a ruptured well at its Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Porter Ranch.
Discovered on Oct. 23, 2015, the leak caused natural gas to flow into the air for several months, releasing up to 109,000 metric tons of methane into the environment before the well was sealed in February 2016.
The California attorney general, the California Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles city attorney, and the county each filed lawsuits against SoCalGas.
Wednesday’s settlement is the result of lengthy settlement negotiations between the parties.
The settlement is subject to approval by the Los Angeles Superior Court and, if approved, will resolve all claims alleged in these lawsuits.
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, also weighed in on the significance of the settlement agreement between SoCalGas and the L.A. City Attorney, L.A. County, the attorney general and California Air Resources Board:
“My constituents deserve to be safe and healthy in their homes, and this settlement is an excellent first step in ensuring that such a leak will not happen again,” he said.
“I was glad to hear that not only will SoCalGas be reimbursing city, county and state governments for their response to the leak, but that they will also be adding safety measures to the facility,” Acosta said.
“This leak displaced two area schools and impacted the lives of thousands in my district. I appreciate the work put in by the attorney general’s office along with L.A. County, L.A. city attorney, and with the Air Resources Board to address both the short- and long-term effects of this leak, and I am committed to cooperate with them as we look for solutions that will be in the best interests of my constituents as we continue to work toward completing long-term health studies and looking for answers that will help prevent an accident like this from ever happening again in our state.”