689 Residents File First Wave of Claims Against CA for Gas Injection Well BlowoutApril 18, 2016
Los Angeles, April 15, 2016 – The massive gas injection well blowout of well SS-25 in the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility operated by SoCalGas created a geyser that lasted over three months. Natural gas, noxious odors, hazardous chemicals, and toxic pollutants rolled down the hillside into Porter Ranch and surrounding areas. The blowout ultimately released 100,000 tons of natural gas. The volume of gas ejected was 220 times greater than the volume of oil released during the B.P. oil spill.
According to the Government Claim Form filed by R. Rex Parris, for the first two and half months after the blowout, Governor Brown was silent despite his obligation to “coordinate the State Emergency Plan . . . for the mitigation of the effects of any emergency in this state.” The Los Angeles Public Health Department stepped in to fill the void and issued an order requiring SoCalGas to pay for the relocation of residents becoming ill from the blowout.
In the midst of the blowout and evacuation of over 4,000 families, Brown went to Paris and boasted about California’s reduction of emissions. Brown was eerily silent about Porter Ranch. It was not simply the result of his absence due to his Paris trip – Brown was conflicted.
First, Brown is a RICO defendant in another lawsuit arising from the same permitting issues present in this action. The state must issue injection well permits to all gas companies that provide basic data showing the injected gas will remain in a confined area underground. This basic data is a safety requirement that is mandated by federal law. Brown, however, ordered state regulators in October of 2011 to stop requiring this basic data for permits of injection wells. DOGGR then stopped requiring gas companies to provide data showing confinement of the injected gas.
Second, his sister is on the board of directors of Sempra Energy (the parent company of SoCalGas). She received income of almost $200,000 each year for the last three years from Sempra and rights to Sempra stock worth another $409,945.
The problems at the Aliso Canyon facility were well known by DOGGR since 2010 and perhaps earlier according to recently discovered well permit files. There is a cluster of bad wells near newly issued injection well permits. One such problem well has been leaking for at least six years; API 03721313 (32F). Well 32F had a patch installed in 1986 that was removed in 2010. Well 32F has not passed any mechanical integrity tests since 2010. As of today, 32F still appears as if it cannot pass any tests and is a significant risk to the health and safety of the community.
Also named in the claim against the state are other agencies including the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The claim also lists SoCalGas, whose property in Aliso Canyon is treated as government property. Another wave of claims will be filed next week. Each client is seeking damages for personal injury and property damage which is expected to exceed $3.5 Million per person.