PORTER RANCH, CALIF. (February 11, 2016) – Southern California Gas today announced it has temporarily stopped the leak that has been spewing natural gas into Porter Ranch and surrounding communities since October.
The cause of the leak will be determined in the coming weeks and months. Information so far suggests it was related to a casing failure in a well more than 60 years old that was used to pump gas in and out of the storage facility.
A small amount of emissions may continue to leak from the facility until the failed well is permanently plugged.
Following is a statement by Damon Nagami, director of NRDC’s Southern California Ecosystems Project:
“Stopping this leak is critical to ensure the safety of the Porter Ranch community, but this isn’t the end of the story. We must do everything we can to protect families in California and across the country—as well as our climate—from harmful gas leaks. That means reforming California’s broken system for regulating injection wells like this one, and setting new limits on methane and other pollutants from oil and gas facilities currently in operation nationwide.”
Health impacts: Millions of Californians live on or near oil and gas infrastructure. The Aliso Canyon facility is used for storage not pumping, but the leak here is a reminder that there are real health impacts for those who live close to wells where oil and gas activities, like pumping and production, take place. Communities of color are particularly vulnerable.
Climate impacts: According to preliminary estimates from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Porter Ranch facility has leaked more than 5.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas as of February 4. That’s the equivalent to the yearly greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 695,000 passenger vehicles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that oil and gas operations are responsible for about 30% of annual U.S. methane emissions, making them the largest industrial source of methane pollution. Pound for pound, methane can cause up to 87 times more warming than carbon dioxide, so reducing emissions of this short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas is crucial to fighting climate change. And given that methane is the primary component of natural gas, controlling emissions also makes sense for industry because every molecule that is not leaked is a molecule that can be sold.
- California Leads on Reducing Emissions from Oil & Gas Operations by NRDC scientist Briana Mordick
- Porter Ranch Gas Leak Linked to California's Broken UIC Program by NRDC scientist Briana Mordick
- Huge Gas Leak in Porter Ranch: A Sobering Reminder of the Health Threats from Oil and Gas in California by NRDC scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman