Bid to keep site of gas leak shut de­nied

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - BRIAN MEL­LEY

LOS AN­GE­LES — A Cal­i­for­nia judge on Fri­day de­nied a mo­tion to halt the re­open­ing of a large nat­u­ral-gas stor­age fa­cil­ity in Los An­ge­les County that has been off­line since a ma­jor blowout.

Lawyers for the county had asked Su­pe­rior Court Judge John Wi­ley to stop South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Gas Co. from restart­ing op­er­a­tions at Aliso Canyon be­cause of earth­quake risks. The judge ten­ta­tively ruled against the county, ac­cord­ing to court fil­ings made pub­lic be­fore a hear­ing. He made the rul­ing fi­nal dur­ing the hear­ing.

Last week, state reg­u­la­tors gave ap­proval to pump gas into un­der­ground stor­age wells af­ter an over­haul and ex­ten­sive test­ing.

Wi­ley cited two state laws that pre­vented his in­ter­fer­ence. He said the Leg­is­la­ture had taken au­thor­ity away from Su­pe­rior Court judges to in­ter­fere with or­ders by the Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion.

“So what’s my power?” Wi­ley said in ex­plain­ing his de­ci­sion in the court­room. “Zero. I have zero power. Be­cause in the 1950s the Leg­is­la­ture said, ‘Hands off. The PUC owns this prob­lem.’”

The fa­cil­ity above the San Fernando Val­ley has been largely out of com­mis­sion since an old well failed in Oc­to­ber 2015 and spewed meth­ane for nearly four months, driv­ing res­i­dents from 8,000 homes. The blowout re­leased the largest-known amount of meth­ane in U.S. his­tory and led to wide­spread com­plaints of nose­bleeds, nausea, headaches and symp­toms that per­sisted even af­ter the leak was capped last year.

The county’s lawyer, Skip Miller, dis­agreed with the judge and asked for a stay so he could go to an ap­peals court.

State reg­u­la­tors gave ap­proval last week to let South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Gas re­sume more lim­ited op­er­a­tions un­der stricter rules af­ter the fa­cil­ity un­der­went a ma­jor over­haul and passed rig­or­ous test­ing.

The county, how­ever, said the state didn’t ad­e­quately ad­dress the threat of a quake rum­bling across the Santa Su­sana Moun­tains where the field is.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.