LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – State and local officials have reached a purported $119.5 million settlement with the Southern California Gas Co. over the Aliso Canyon methane gas leak, the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history, which forced thousands of Porter Ranch residents to evacuate their homes.
The settlement was announced in a news conference Wednesday at the California Department of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.
Under the terms of the deal, SoCalGas will “reimburse city, county and state governments for costs associated with their response to the leak; establish a program with the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak; and fund local environmental benefit projects to be administered by the government parties,” the company said in a statement.
The news conference was held by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city and county officials.
The settlement is outside of a class action lawsuit involving around 9,000 plaintiffs that has been filed again SoCalGas.
Beginning in October 2015, the Aliso Canyon storage facility spewed about 109,000 metric tons of methane into the air and led to the temporary relocation of about 7,000 Porter Ranch-area residents. The leak was not capped until February 2016.
The leak occurred in an over 60-year-old well, one of 115 wells at a vacant oil field that was converted in the 1970s to store gas a mile-and-a-half underground where crude oil had been removed. Aliso Canyon is the largest natural gas storage site in the West.
The leak led to mass complaints of health issues ranging from headaches and nosebleeds to nausea and cancer; issues that persisted after the leak was capped.
Limited operations resumed at the facility in late July 2017 with the blessing of state regulators. Efforts by Los Angeles County officials to block the resumed operations failed in court.
Last year, SoCalGas reached an $8.5 million settlement with South Coast Air Quality Management District over the leak, which included $1 million in funding for an SCAQMD-sponsored health study on the impacts of the leak, although county health officials said that $35 million to $40 million would be needed for an adequate study.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)