Residents in Porter Ranch gathered Monday evening to protest the reopening of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.
The facility was deemed “safe to operate” and capable of reopening at “a greatly reduced capacity” by state engineering and safety enforcement experts last week.
But local residents and the County of Los Angeles — which has filed a temporary restraining order requesting the facility’s reopening be blocked — are wary of that decision following a massive leak in 2015. A court hearing for that legal suit is scheduled for Friday.
In October of that year, the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility unleashed the largest methane gas leak in history — when Southern California Gas Company reported that one of its 115 wells at the facility failed and discharged an estimated “100,000 metric tons of methane and other chemicals over Porter Ranch and the entire San Fernando Valley,” as described by the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council in a November 2016 letter to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The suit filed by the County of Los Angeles cites the words of SoCalGas’s former head of gas storage at Aliso Canyon, James Mansdorfer, who wrote an email cautioning the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources — one of the agencies inspecting the facility’s safety — against reopening Aliso Canyon.
His cautionary statements came as it was discovered the facility is located along earthquake fault lines, according to the suit.
Mansdorfer is quoted as writing “there is a potential for catastrophic … loss of life” if the facility is reopened and operating as before. He also writes that “in light of SoCalGas[’s] refusal to openly address this [seismic] risk, my ethics just will not allow me to stand by without making the public aware of what could happen,” according to the legal suit filed by the county.
Local residents protesting the reopening of the facility also said that opening up Aliso Canyon Storage Facility again would present a danger to the local community.
“We know that it’s poison,” Porter Ranch resident J.D. Dorfman told KTLA. “We have the air levels every day showing that they continue to poison us.”