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    SoCalGas settles over Aliso Canyon leak


A methane leak from an underground storage facility was among the largest ever in US history.

by: Daniel Graeber

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SoCalGas settles over Aliso Canyon leak

Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) said September 27 it had agreed to an after-tax settlement of $1.1bn for its role in a California natural gas leak in 2015.

Employees at the utility discovered a gas leak at an underground storage facility in Aliso Canyon in October 2015. Not plugged until the following February, it was among the worst natural gas leaks in US history in terms of emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

SoCalGas said its after-tax charge of $1.1bn resolves “substantially all material civil litigation” against the company, adding the settlement costs would not trickle down to consumers.

"These agreements are an important milestone that will help the community and our company work toward putting this difficult chapter behind us," CEO Scott Drury said.

The source of the leak was deep underground, creating difficult abatement conditions. Matt Pakucko, the founder of Save Porter Ranch, an advocacy group supporting widespread mitigation, said money alone is not a solution.

“SoCalGas’ devastating blowout will never be behind us until the Aliso Canyon storage facility is shut down and the danger it poses to the community is permanently eliminated,” he said. “We are nowhere near a resolution.”

SoCalGas, the largest gas distributor in the US, signed a $12mn deal in August to secure light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology to detect, pinpoint and quantify methane emissions across its network. The company already monitors emissions with foot patrols, but it now wants to use helicopters equipped with Bridger's LiDAR sensors to make the process more effective.