Authorities on Wednesday announced a $119.5 million settlement with Southern California Gas Co. over the 2015 Aliso Canyon blowout widely proclaimed to be the worst methane gas leak in U.S. history.
In addition to reimbursing the city, county and state for the costs of mitigating the leak, SoCalGas will work with the California Air Resources Board to alleviate methane emissions and fund local environmental projects.
Under agreement, the company is required to refrain from passing the cost of the settlement to rate payers. The terms also include the monitoring of methane along the Aliso Canyon facility’s fence.
A well in the company’s Porter Ranch facility blew out in October 2015, spewing more than 100,000 tons of methane and prompting thousands of residents to flee.
The leak, which wasn’t permanently plugged until February 2016, was followed by lawsuits over its effect on residents health. In February 2017, SoCalGas agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Despite the complaints, however, a judge ruled in July 2017 that the facility could reopen.
Matt Pakucko, who co-founded the group Save Porter Ranch, expressed disappointment with the agreement between the government and SoCalGas.
“[California Attorney Xavier Becerra] should be investigating, not settling,” he told KTLA ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.
Becerra addressed the terms of the the settlement at a news conference, saying that the agreement did not resolve ongoing litigations over health concerns on residents nor the California Public Utilities Commission’s continuing investigation of the root cause of the incident.
But speaking later at a community forum, Jason Tokoro, counsel for L.A. County, said officials worked to get the best deal the could.
“We litigated this case all the way to the California Supreme Court, and there were certain things we were asking that the court told us we just couldn’t get,” he said. “Everything else that we sought, we got as part of this settlement.”