SoCalGas Aliso Canyon 3. (credit: SoCal Gas / Governor’s Office of Emergency Services)

On Tuesday evening, Southern California’s air quality regulator sued SoCal Gas, the company that owns a leaking natural gas storage well just north of Los Angeles. The leaking well has been venting hundreds of thousands of pounds of methane per hour into the atmosphere for the last three months.
The civil lawsuit demands damages (PDF) from SoCal Gas for creating a nuisance for the residents of the nearby Porter Ranch community and for negligently operating the Aliso Canyon storage facility that houses 115 storage wells, including the leaking SS-25 well. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is asking for up to $440,000 per day that the leak continues, based on six alleged violations.
The leak began on October 23, and after several failed attempts to plug it, SoCal Gas began drilling a relief well down to the 8,500-foot-deep reservoir where the natural gas is stored. (The reservoir is just one of many cavities that once held oil and were sucked dry decades ago. SoCal Gas repurposed these reservoirs in the 1970s to store natural gas.) In the meantime, the gas has been venting into the atmosphere.
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