Emergency Proclamation Explained By Governor’s Office

The Nuts and Bolts of the State of Emergency

Dateline:  Sacramento

The Methane Volcano
The Methane Volcano

SACRAMENTO – Given the prolonged and continuing duration of the Aliso Canyon gas leak and at the request of residents and local officials, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued a proclamation that declares the situation an emergency and details the administration’s ongoing efforts to help stop the leak. The order also directs further action to protect public health and safety, ensure accountability and strengthen oversight of gas storage facilities.

Earlier this week, Governor Brown met with Porter Ranch residents and toured the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility, including the site of the leak and one of the relief wells.

Today’s proclamation builds on months of regulatory and oversight actions from seven state agencies mobilized to protect public health, oversee Southern California Gas Company’s actions to stop the leak, track methane emissions, ensure worker safety, safeguard energy reliability and address any other problems stemming from the leak. Actions include:

– The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services established an incident command structure, including a physical post on-site at Aliso Canyon to better coordinate the local, state and federal response and information sharing and is maintaining a public webpage to provide real-time information regarding the state’s multi-agency response and air quality monitoring.

– The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources is investigating the leak and overseeing Southern California Gas Company’s efforts to stop it, including issuing emergency orders in November and December directing Southern California Gas Company to halt gas injections into the storage facility, immediately work on alternatives to stop the leak and provide testing results, data, daily briefings and a written plan and schedule for sealing the well. The Division also established a panel of experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Sandia National Laboratory to provide independent monitoring and technical expertise and review Southern California Gas Company data and information reported to the Division.

– The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is reviewing air quality measurements, evaluating public health concerns from the gas leak and assisting other state agencies in determining whether additional actions are needed beyond those already required by local public health agencies.

– The California Public Utilities Commission is investigating the gas leak to determine its cause and any possible violations and is collecting information about the costs of responding to and fixing the leak. The Commission and Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources also directed Southern California Gas Company to retain and pay for an independent, third party to perform a technical analysis of the well failure and its cause and share the results with regulators and the public.

– The California Air Resources Board is measuring the leak rate and estimating total methane emissions over the duration of the leak and is using ground-level monitoring, specially-equipped airplanes, and satellite information to provide updates of emissions.

– The Division of Occupational Safety and Health is ensuring on-site worker safety at Aliso Canyon.

– The California Energy Commission is coordinating with California Public Utilities Commission to maintain energy reliability during this incident.

Last month, the Governor sent a letter to the CEO of Southern California Gas stating that the company’s response has been “insufficient” and must be sped up, while noting that state agencies’ multiple ongoing investigations will be coordinated with the California Attorney General’s Office.

Today’s proclamation implements the following key orders:

– Stopping the Leak: All necessary and viable actions will be taken to ensure Southern California Gas Company: maximizes daily withdrawals of natural gas from the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility for use or storage elsewhere; captures leaking gas and odorants while relief wells are being completed; and identifies how it will stop the gas leak if relief wells fail to seal the leaking well, or if the existing leak worsens.

– Protecting Public Health and Safety: The state will: continue its prohibition against Southern California Gas Company injecting any gas into the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility until a comprehensive review of the safety of the storage wells and the air quality of the surrounding community utilizing independent experts is completed; expand its real-time monitoring of emissions in the community; convene an independent panel of scientific and medical experts to review public health concerns; and take all actions necessary to ensure the continued reliability of natural gas and electricity supplies in the coming months.

– Ensuring Accountability: The California Public Utilities Commission will ensure that Southern California Gas Company covers costs related to the natural gas leak and its response, while protecting ratepayers; and the state will develop a program to fully mitigate the leak’s emissions of methane funded by the Southern California Gas Company.

– Strengthening Oversight: The state will promulgate emergency regulations for gas storage facility operators throughout the state, requiring: at least daily inspection of gas storage well heads using gas leak detection technology such as infrared imaging; ongoing verification of the mechanical integrity of all gas storage wells; ongoing measurement of annular gas pressure or annular gas flow within wells; regular testing of all safety valves used in wells; minimum and maximum pressure limits for each gas storage facility in the state; a comprehensive risk management plan for each facility that evaluates and prepares for risks, including corrosion potential of pipes and equipment. Additionally, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission will submit to the Governor’s Office a report that assesses the long-term viability of natural gas storage facilities in California.

Under today’s declaration, and at the direction of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, all state agencies will utilize state personnel, equipment, and facilities to ensure a continuous and thorough state response to this incident. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services will also provide frequent and timely updates to residents affected by the natural gas leak and the appropriate local officials, including convening community meetings in the coming weeks.

posted by Uncle Paulie