Well Finally Capped, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Still Concerned About Safety

110 days after the leak began, the Porter Ranch gas well that spewed over 100,000 metric tons of gas into the air has officially been capped.

State officials from the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) confirmed on February 18 that SoCalGas finally capped the well, putting an end to four months of tense waiting.

This comes nearly a week after SoCalGas announced that it successfully controlled the flow of gas out of the leaking well, putting a temporary stop to the problem.

“We are pleased that DOGGR has confirmed that the well has been permanently sealed,” said Dennis V. Arriola, Chairman, President and CEO of SoCalGas. “While the leak has been stopped and the well permanently sealed, we have much work to do, partnering with state and local agencies to help the local community and impacted residents return to normal.”

He went on to say that the gas company intends to closely inspect the other wells in the facility to ensure a disaster of this magnitude never happens again, and to determine the causes of why the gas well blowout occurred in the first place.

Despite the good news, concerns about what will happen going forward remain.

In an interview with KTLA 5, renown environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy expressed his safety concerns for the residents who remained and are now returning- despite assurances from the gas company that it is safe to come back. Kennedy was also unsettled by the conduct of the regulatory agencies in regards to this disaster, questioning DOGGR’s neutrality and referring to it as a “captive agency.” He went on to voice his concern that all the natural gas injection wells located in the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility intersect with the Santa Susana fault.

Kennedy also called for testing of the oily substance that has shown up on people’s homes. He revealed that preliminary tests of plant tissue contaminated with the oily substance contained high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. He acknowledged that more testing needs to be done in order to properly assess the situation, but expressed frustration that government agencies and SoCalGas are not doing more to get to the bottom of it.

Hopefully concerns about the safety of returning residents do not get forgotten now that the well has been capped.

One of the attorneys involved in the Porter Ranch litigation, Frank Petosa of Morgan & Morgan, compared the case in California to the BP oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. He said “many parallels” exist between the Deepwater Horizon and Aliso Canyon leaks, primarily in the utility companies’ management of the wells and response to the accidents. “What is the unfortunate similarity is both corporations put profits ahead of safety and not taking the necessary steps to ensure safety — and then not having a plan in place,” Petosa said. SoCalGas pled not guilty to criminal misdemeanor charges regarding the time it took the gas company to announce the leak.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the gas leak, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys are working hard to hold SoCalGas accountable. Contact us today if you’ve been affected by the Aliso Canyon gas well blowout.