Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas), along with state and local officials, announced today that the leaking well at the Aliso Canyon Storage facility, that has been spewing out natural gas since October 23 and displacing thousands of families, has been permanently capped.
“While this is welcomed news, now the real work begins to heal the victims’ needs and to prevent a future crisis,” said Supervisor Antonovich. “The current eight day timeframe, which the Board of Supervisors unanimously opposed, further victimizes the victims, forcing them to return home prematurely. The time frame is unacceptable for families who need to rearrange work and school schedules; move their belongings; and readjust their homes.”
The Board of Supervisors, in line with the County Department of Public Health, has asked SoCal Gas and the Los Angeles City Attorney to extend the eight day resident relocation reimbursement program to the 30 days necessary to conduct the proper air quality tests.
“SoCal Gas continues to drop the ball in recognizing the concerns of the residents for any potential long-term negative health impacts caused by the leak. It is imperative to conduct comprehensive and exhaustive air monitoring tests before residents are forced to return home. Furthermore, SoCal Gas must provide long-term catastrophic healthcare coverage to give residents a sense of lasting security. “
Since it began on October 23, the gas leak has severely disrupted the lives of thousands of families over the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. They have had to find alternate housing for themselves and their pets. Over 2,200 air quality complaints and reports of illness have been filed, two schools have been closed and students had to be relocated, and multiple lawsuits filed. In addition, there have been 7,250 requests for relocation; nearly 5,000 residents relocated; and over 3,000 air purifiers installed. Many businesses have suffered losses during this crisis and now have access to at 4% small business loans from agencies, such as the United States Small Business Authority. Any interest accrued from such loans should be reimbursed by SoCal Gas to the victims of this failure.
The Board of Supervisors has unanimously supported legislative efforts by State Senator Fran Pavley to conduct a massive overhaul of regulatory agencies to instill greater public confidence and prevent the reoccurrence of this type of catastrophic breakdown; in addition to efforts at the Federal level by Senators Feinstein and Boxer.
“This crisis has exposed the corruption and incompetence of the States’ regulatory system,” added Antonovich. “State legislators and Governor Brown must also ensure that all fines or fees assessed from punitive damages levied against SoCal Gas are used locally to make the community whole. State oversight agencies and SoCal Gas owe it to all residents to make every effort to move storage facilities, like Aliso Canyon, away from population centers.”
A moratorium is in place on the proposed Los Angeles City annexation of the 188-unit Hidden Creeks project, adjacent to Aliso Canyon. The County is currently supporting redesignating the site as a permanent open-space preserve instead of allowing additional housing in close proximity to the gas storage facility.