Los Angeles has a public health problem directly tied up with our gas infrastructure. The latest challenge to our public health lies deep in a lengthy Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (DEIR). This restoration project could cost up to 180 million dollars and would allow SoCalGas to drill new gas wells as it closes others. In short, the project would fund modernizing of the Playa del Rey Gas Storage equipment for new wells and, very likely, slant drilling. This large capital improvement project indicates that SoCalGas is not interested in shutting down the facility anytime soon despite the city’s declaration to move to 100% renewables.
The location specified for moving the drilling mechanisms is up against the bluffs in Playa del Rey. Slant drilling would allow the gas to be stored horizontally across the wetlands. The documents indicate the size of the gas storage field will be the same. SoCalGas’ history of violations is concerning. The Aliso Canyon blowout was the largest natural gas disaster in US history. SoCalGas received ten violations from SCAQMD in 2017 alone, Playa del Rey received two and Aliso Canyon received three violations, including a nuisance violation, despite only operating for four months in 2017. Given these violations and other evidence of failure, the public has little faith that SoCalGas will be able to curb dangerous leaks or prevent another blow out.
While language on pages 1-25 and 1-26 of the DEIR requires local and state permits to include various city agencies (like Building & Safety and Public Works), there is no indication that the City of LA would need to require permits for slant drilling and modernization of equipment for drilling. No public money should go towards subsidizing a multi-billion dollar company. Residents must not pay for the roads and the upkeep to provide twenty-four hour access for SoCalGas to update a facility that will keep poisoning our communities. Los Angeles should be investing in energy infrastructure for the future and not spend millions on outdated infrastructure of the past.
The Playa del Rey Gas Storage Facility is older than the Aliso Canyon facility, which continues to leak and cause chronic health problems for the beleaguered residents of Porter Ranch. There is no need to continue exposing our densely populated community to benzene, hydrofluoric acid, and other toxins. If the five-mile evacuation radius around Aliso Canyon is used as a reference point for our community, a half million people will have to be evacuated when there is a blow out in the SoCalGas Playa del Rey Gas Storage Facility, and it will hurt thousands of businesses, including LAX.
At a time when residents are seeking the closure of the dangerous Playa del Rey gas facility and a fast transition to 100% clean renewable energy, SoCalGas is attempting to erect new wells and roads with public funding.
Please make a comment on the DEIR at this address. Public comments are due by February 5, 2018. BWERcomments@wildlife.ca.gov
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