SoCalGas to pay $119.5 million settlement over 2015 Porter Ranch gas leak

SoCalGas to pay $119.5 million settlement over 2015 Porter Ranch gas leak

Southern California Gas Co. will pay out $119.5 million under the terms of a settlement disclosed this morning, covering claims lodged against the company over the 2015 gas leak at its Aliso Canyon natural gas facility near Porter Ranch, the company said.

The leak, which began in October of that year and wasn’t capped until the following February, led to numerous complaints of illness and the displacement of thousands from their homes in an ordeal that left nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane spewing into the air over four months.

The agreement was between SoCalGas, the California Attorney General’s Office, the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, the county of Los Angeles and the California Air Resources Board to resolve all outstanding claims by those agencies against the company related to the leak, according to SoCalGas.

Under the terms, SoCalGas will also 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, according to SoCal Gas.

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While gas was still spewing from the Aliso Canyon well in early 2016, California’s attorney general — then Kamala Harris — alleged in a lawsuit that SoCalGas violated state health and safety laws by not promptly controlling the release of natural gas, which had by then been leaking methane at its storage facility in the hills above the San Fernando Valley since Oct. 23. The leak, Harris alleged, was also not quickly reported to authorities.

Since then, many in the Porter Ranch and environmental communities have called for the complete shutdown of the facility, despite regulators and SoCalGas saying that it’s safe and that improvements have been made at the site. The company says the facility is vital to supplying energy to Southern California.

More to come.