Now There Are Oil Spots All Over Porter Ranch

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The fallout from LA’s historically huge Aliso Canyon methane leak disaster continues to engulf the lives of Porter Ranch residents. The four-month ordeal spewed 100,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere and uprooted the lives of hundreds of households in neighboring Porter Ranch, many of which continue to take advantage of the temporary housing extension that the city attorney’s office wrestled from the utility company in court. Others have returned home to an unpleasant sight: patches of brown and black oil covering their homes and lawns.

In addition to cleaning up the faulty Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, SoCal Gas Company is now going through Porter Ranch neighborhoods, cleaning oils spots off resident’s homes, fences, and playground equipment, reports NBC4.

Back in November, SoCal Gas was pumping a brine solution into the SS-25 gas well as part of disastrous early efforts to plug the leak. Unfortunately, that fluid mixed with oil from the natural gas well and emerged from the ground as an oily mist that floated down to Porter Ranch. SoCal Gas advised residents to stay indoors for their own safety and eventually erected a mesh screen to catch the oily mist, but it still escaped and settled on the homes and parks of Porter Ranch.

SoCal Gas has some extra time on their hands for the oil cleanup, however, because work at the Aliso Canyon gas wells is suspended for the time being. No natural gas has been added to or extracted from the facility since January 21, and now regulators are stepping in to ensure that the gas wells are up to snuff before they are put back online. California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources is demanding several tests and upgrades at the Aliso Canyon facility before allowing SoCal Gas to continue operating their wells.

DOGGR’s big concern is the steel casing of Aliso Canyon’s 115 natural gas wells. It was a corrosion in the SS-25 well’s steel casing that caused the four-month long leak, and by their own admission, SoCal Gas has a whole lotta corroded pipes. Not only that, but the gas company is putting more pressure on their pipes than they need to.

The original design for the wells called for a two-inch tube that ran down the middle of the seven-inch well casing. Gas would only run through the small tube, so any leaks would be caught by the surrounding metal casing. SoCal Gas found that it could extract much more methane at a much faster rate if it removed the tube and relied on the larger metal casing instead. Problem was, that put extra pressure on the casing, and removed a key safeguard from leaks.

Now, with the status of 115 well casings in doubt, DOGGR doesn’t trust SoCal Gas’s aging pipe system. They have mandated that gas extraction may not continue at the Aliso Canyon storage facility until the tubes are reinstated. Retrofitting the wells will come at a substantial cost to SoCal Gas, and could take some serious time to accomplish. A spokesperson for DOGGR tells LA Weekly that it will be at least several months before the gas wells could be up and running again.

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