SoCalGas Knew Their Pipes Near Porter Ranch Were Bound To Fail
Documents from almost a year before the disastrous Porter Ranch gas leak show that Southern California Gas knew that it was a matter of time before their pipes would fail.The Los Angeles Daily News uncovered a filing by the utility company to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) from November of 2014 where they said they needed more funds to conduct inspections and repairs on their aging infrastructure.
"Ultrasonic surveys conducted in storage wells as part of well repair work from 2008 to 2013 identified internal/external casing corrosion, or mechanical damage in 15 wells," reads the document. Without a funding for a new management program, "SoCalGas and customers could experience major failures and service interruptions from potential hazards that currently remain undetected."
"Their own documents show this place is deteriorating, and now it's a huge problem," Matt Pakucko, president and co-founder of Save Porter Ranch, told the Daily News.
Documents show that workers detected problems at Aliso Canyon years before the leak. Two leaks were found in 2013, and instances of corrosion date back as far as 2008.
On Oct. 23, 2015, a massive gas leak was discovered at SoCalGas' Aliso Canyon facility. The utility says they won't be fully repaired until the end of March, and it has since sickened thousands of people in nearby Porter Ranch and closed schools.
In order to raise funds for an overhaul of their maintenance program, SoCalGas needs the PUC needs to approve any rate increases on customers. The proposal is still pending, over a year later.
As of July 2014, half of their almost 230 storage wells are over 57 years old, with 52 over 70 years old. The wells start to deteriorate after 40 years.
Despite their admitted shortcomings, SoCalGas did not appear to break any laws before the well failed in Aliso Canyon. "SoCalGas operates in compliance with relevant regulations which are set up to ensure the public safety," a spokesman said to the Daily News in an email. "We conduct daily observations to ensure everything is in proper working order and weekly checks of pressure readings to confirm their condition."