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Settlement reached in gas disaster at Aliso Canyon

City News Service | 8/10/2018, midnight

A $119.5 million settlement agreement was announced this week to resolve claims by several governmental bodies stemming from the massive Aliso Canyon methane leak that sent an estimated 100,000 tons of natural gas into neighborhoods around Porter Ranch in 2015.

According to a statement released by Southern California Gas Co., the settlement with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the County of Los Angeles, the California Attorney General’s office and the California Air Resources Board resolves “all outstanding claims by those government bodies against the company related to the 2015-2016 natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility.’’

“Under the terms of the $119.5 million settlement agreement, SoCalGas will, among other things, reimburse city, county and state governments for costs associated with their response to the leak; establish a program with the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak; and fund local environmental benefit projects to be administered by the government parties,’’ according to the statement.

The gas stemmed from an underground storage facility owned by the company.

Officials said the invisible gas was flowing for about four months in what is being called the worst methane leak in history. An estimated 8,000 residents evacuated their homes, and people from the area said they experienced health issues such as headaches, nosebleeds and nausea.

A class-action suit involving around 9,000 plaintiffs has been filed again SoCalGas. People affiliated with the suit said they resented reports of a settlement since it indicated that a state investigation of the leak will end even though, they claim, the leaking has not stopped.

Bret Lane, the utility’s president and chief operating officer, said SoCalGas “is delivering on our commitment to the governor and the people of California to fully mitigate the methane emissions from the leak at our Aliso Canyon facility.’’

“The settlement will also help California meet its ambitious climate goals by advancing projects that capture methane from dairy farms and waste and convert that energy into renewable natural gas for use in transportation,’’ he said. “SoCalGas is pleased to have worked with the Attorney General’s Office, the Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the County of Los Angeles to resolve these matters for the people of California.’’