Crews Try to Plug Uncontained Gas Leak Outside Los Angeles

17 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Crews work to plug a 3-week-old leak from massive natural gas well outside Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Crews will try to stop a leak Saturday from a massive natural gas storage well that has persisted for three weeks outside Los Angeles and alarmed nearby residents concerned for their safety and sickened by the stench. An oily mist was emitted into the air today as crews worked to repair a natural gas leak at a Southern California Gas Company facility in Northridge prompting warnings to residents to stay indoors. SoCalGas said the mist of briny water and gas did not spread from the Aliso Canyon well in the mountains above Porter Ranch to the community below and that the rare leak poses no imminent health threat. That advisory was issued out of an abundance of caution and for a very short time,” Mendoza said. “We don’t believe there are any health or environmental concerns.” The release happened as well-control experts were pumping a heavy brine solution into a leaking gas pipe in a 8,750 deep well. An automated call telling them to hunker down only added to frustration they have felt since the company’s initial denials of the Oct. 23 leak, a lack of a timetable for when it will be plugged and headaches and nausea some are experiencing.

The gas company had said the leak did not pose a threat because it was is outdoors and over a mile away from and more than 1,200 feet higher than homes or public areas. While the company sent another automated call a couple hours later telling residents they could go outside, Laura Gideon said she planned to take her family to her mother’s house across the San Fernando Valley.

The company was preparing Friday to stop the leak by pouring a briny solution into the well when the oily mist sprayed and oily liquid spilled on the ground. I know they called county fire and the health department to evaluate what happened up there,” said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council. The utility’s John Lane told Los Angeles police that the leak had been reduced and crews were making repairs that were expected to take several more days.

SoCalGas won’t speculate when the leak might be stopped, but Steve Bohlen, oil and gas supervisor for the state of California, said it could be as soon as Saturday. Results of tests on the substance were not expected before Monday or Tuesday, but it is believed to be a mixture of the brine solution, mud and residue from inside the well, Mendoza said. The facility is located atop the Santa Susana Mountains, which are bone dry from the drought and can be raked by fierce winds that drive wildfires late into the year. A crew from Boots & Coots Services, the company that helped extinguish oil well fires in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War, removed the icy chunk a week ago that plugged a nearly 3-inch pipe that extends a mile and a half underground where natural gas is stored in the cavities of an old oil well.

The company said its own air samples have shown that none of the chemicals released from the well are a threat to public health, though air regulators are conducting their own tests. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has received more than 270 complaints from people in the area and could issue violation notices, said spokesman Sam Atwood. The odor that residents have complained about is from an additive used to make odorless natural gas detectable to prevent disasters from the flammable fossil fuel.

Residents who first noted the smell said they were misled for days when they called the company and were told it was completing an annual purging of its lines before it acknowledged there was a serious problem. “We apologized for miscommunicating early on,” Mendoza said. “They may have received misinformation or may not have received accurate information, but no one was intentionally misleading.”

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