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article imageGas company ordered to permanently shut down leaking well site

By Karen Graham     Jan 24, 2016 in Environment
Los Angeles - State regulators have ordered Southern California Gas Company, SoCal Gas, to permanently close and seal the natural gas storage well in Aliso Canyon that has been leaking since October, 2015.
Besides stopping the leak as soon as possible, the gas company has been ordered to take immediate action to minimize the odors and air pollution from the massive gas leak near Porter Ranch.
After four days of hearings that included testimony from more than 110 residents and elected officials, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) voted unanimously to adopt the order on Saturday, January 23.
The Porter Ranch gas leak on the outskirts of Los Angeles has been leaking massive amounts of methane, along with some smaller amounts of the carcinogen benzene and other chemicals. Earlier this month, Digital Journal cited CBS News as reporting that SoCalGas had underestimated the number of times the cancer-causing chemical, benzene had been released into the atmosphere.
The utility company has also been ordered to fund an independent health study for residents of the Porter Ranch community as well as inspect all 115 wells at the Aliso Canyon storage facility to prevent any future gas leaks.
"As a result of this order, SoCalGas must take immediate steps to minimize air pollution and odors from its leaking well and stop the leak as quickly as possible," said Barry Wallerstein, SCAQMD's executive officer, reports Fox News.
However, reports the LA Times, critics are angry that the regulatory authority didn't order all the wells at the Aliso Canyon storage site closed down. "This is an ongoing disappointment and no one is managing this crisis situation," said a statement from Matt Pakucko, president of the group Save Porter Ranch.
"SQAMD's failure to put Californians' livelihoods first is shameful, and Governor Brown should intervene swiftly," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in the same press release. The Sierra Club advocates looking very closely at every urban gas storage facility in California and the country, "to ensure the health of our communities and our climate is never again sacrificed for corporate polluter profits."
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