Southern California Gas Co. officials and state regulators must adhere to strict safety standards before the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility can reopen following the months-long gas leak that ended up capped in February, according to new legislation signed last week by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
The legislation, SB 380, calls for all 114 of the gas field’s wells to undergo testing developed by U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories scientists before SoCalGas can resume injections of natural gas into the storage facility.
“Often in the aftermath of disasters, memories begin to fade,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who co-authored the bill and represents communities affected by the gas leak. “Now that the news cameras have left Aliso Canyon and moved on, the governor and Legislature have shown that their memories are vivid and that a hard lesson has been learned. We must do all we can to prevent another disaster. This law puts public safety first.”
The testing required under the bill follows standards set by Brown in an emergency order, and calls for the 114 wells to pass two complementary tests and four more structural integrity tests before they can come back online.
SoCalGas officials said earlier they support the legislation.
“SoCalGas strongly supports efforts to enhance the safety of all natural gas storage facilities at both the state level as well as nationally, and we are supportive of forward-looking laws and regulations that adopt best practices for our storage facilities,” the company said. “We are actively working through the comprehensive safety review process that was ordered by (the state division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources) in March and we are working toward being able to operate the Aliso Canyon storage facility by late summer, subject to confirmation by the DOGGR supervisor and the executive director of the (California Public Utilities Commission).”
The Aliso Canyon gas leak first ended up detected Oct. 23, 2015. After a relief well completed, authorities formally said Feb. 18 they sealed the leak.