CA Gas Leak an Age Thing

Monday, February 22, 2016 @ 06:02 PM gHale

A huge gas leak in Porter Ridge, near Los Angeles, brought attention to the nation’s aging energy infrastructure and points to a need for new gas storage regulations, the U.S. energy secretary said.

Secretary Ernest Moniz visited the site of the Southern California Gas Co. well blowout to learn lessons to help frame a multiagency approach to improving safety at energy facilities nationwide.

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Moniz provided no details on what might the federal government can or will do. But he said several themes emerged after meeting with state and local officials about the leak at Aliso Canyon, the largest gas storage facility in the West.

“Regrettably, there’s a broader theme than Aliso Canyon,” Moniz said. “We have a lot of very old infrastructure in energy that we have to address for the 21st century.”

The well that ruptured was more than 60 years old and its original intent was to drill down to pump oil from deep underground. After the well dried up, officials reused it in the 1970s to pump natural gas into the empty oil wells for storage and withdraw it when demand spiked.

Moniz said the infrastructure needs to end up improved so it’s smarter and more resilient.

He also said regulations need a fresh look, including requirements for stronger monitoring.

“These are issues which I want to emphasize have come to light particularly strongly here in Aliso Canyon and obviously are justifiably a huge local concern,” he said. “But they also tell us about a problem we have to study more generally across the country.”

The gas leak spewed climate-changing methane uncontrollably for 16 weeks before the leak ended up sealed off last week.

Moniz said testing by the state was still underway and could last through Wednesday.

Nearly 6,500 families in the Porter Ranch community ended up uprooted. Residents complained of symptoms ranging from nosebleeds to nausea.