Bill to Require Science-Based Monitoring, Transparency at Aliso Canyon Heads to Governor’s Desk

Thursday, September 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Henry Stern’s SB 463 passed its final vote yesterday in the California State Legislature. The bill bolsters the reporting of the chemical composition of materials emitted from gas storage wells in the event of a leak and requires the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to review and revise its policies in response to the Aliso Canyon root cause analysis.

“To this day, our families and first responders are kept awake at night, anxious about the health effects of the chemicals pumped into our community after the Aliso Canyon blowout,” said Senator Stern. “They deserve answers and action. SB 463 will deliver neutral and science-based chemical reporting— and it will mandate a long-overdue regulatory response to this avoidable disaster caused by a culture of carelessness and negligence at SoCalGas.”

"Almost four years later, the aftereffects of the Aliso Canyon gas leak are pervasive in our communities, making it clear that our government agencies — DOGGR, specifically — must strengthen their response to the disaster and their dedication to transparent reporting,” said Assemblywoman Christy Smith. “In the wake of the root cause analysis and Senator Stern and my joint oversight hearing, it’s abundantly clear our community’s health needs can no longer be sidelined and restoring safety is our top priority. I thank the Senator for his leadership on his bill."

"The idea that a company can expose a community to deadly chemicals due to failure of its operation, and yet not be required to at least inform the community of what they were exposed to, is utterly outrageous,” said Dr. Issam Najm, Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council President.  “That’s what SoCalGas has done to the hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles residents in the San Fernando Valley in the aftermath of the Aliso Canyon blowout of 2015.  We are immensely grateful to Senator Stern for closing that loophole with SB 463. No California community should have to live through that uncertainty again.”

In light of the Aliso Canyon root cause analysis released in May, Senator Henry Stern and Assemblywoman Christy Smith conducted a joint oversight hearing to discuss and receive public input on SoCalGas’s failure to anticipate foreseeable risks and the emergency response conducted in the wake of the blowout.

The root cause analysis was conducted by Blade Energy Partners, who found that proper modeling, which SoCalGas did not conduct until its seventh attempt to control the well in December, could have successfully controlled the well as early as November 13. The report also highlights significant evidence that SoCalGas was aware of corrosion issues at the facility for decades prior. Recent reports have found that the Aliso Canyon blowout and subsequent leaks cost the state $1 billion.

A 1988 SoCalGas interoffice memo suggested inspecting 20 wells originally completed in the 1940s and 1950s, including the well that ruptured in 2015 (SS-25). Seven wells were inspected within a two-year window and five showed significant external corrosion — but the remaining 13, including SS-25, were not examined. Blade found no documentation to indicate that the five wells with external corrosion were investigated to determine cause of the corrosion.

Blade identified a number of root causes for the blowout, including lack of detailed follow-up investigations after over 60 casing leaks prior to 2015, lack of risk assessment focused on wellbore integrity management and lack of systematic practices of external corrosion protection for surface casing strings.

Assemblywoman Christy Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.

CONTACT: Danni.Wang@asm.ca.gov (661) 286-1565, Josh.Kirmsse@sen.ca.gov 916-651-4483