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





Gas Leak Blew Up John F. Kennedy High School in Bronx, NY

No Wonder Bobby Kennedy Jr. Is Fighting Mad About Gas Industry

Dateline: Porter Ranch

NY Daily News photo shows some of the damage to JFK High School.
NY Daily News photo shows some of the damage to JFK High School.

Well, now we know one reason why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is so mad at the gas industry.  Looking back into the archives of the NaturalGasWatch.org, we find that the New York City High School named after his uncle, former President John F. Kennedy, was partially blown up back in August of 2015.  The gas explosion was allegedly the result of a contractor setting off the explosion by using a blow-torch while installing new gas lines.  Several contractors and plumbers suffered major burns over their bodies, one man had burns over 90 percent of his body.  The Plumbers Union is demanding documents and reports from the Fire Marshall, but the City of New York is dragging its feet.  What are they hiding?  Or, maybe the question should be who is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio protecting?  Click Here to read the whole story.

Caroline Kennedy Visited the High School in 2003

Back in April of 2003, Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, visited the school named after her father.  She spent the day supporting the students and faculty.  By her side was another famous woman, the beautiful singer Thalia, who was named “Principal of the Day” for the school.  These two high-powered women put their love into supporting that school, and we can understand how shocked they were to hear that a part of the school was blown-up due to a gas leak.  It proves the point on just how dangerous gas can be, and could also explain why the Porter Ranch Gas Blow-Out is sort of personal to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., after seeing the John F. Kennedy High School suffer so much damage.

Caroline Kennedy is presently the United States Ambassador to Japan, an amazing achievement since her father, JFK, was a veteran of World War II, and fought the war as a Commander of a PT Boat.  How proud would he be, were he alive today, of his daughter Caroline and his fighting nephew, Bobby Kennedy, Jr.

Posted by Uncle Paulie


M.I.A. – Where Is Jerry Brown?

Porter Ranch Needs Disaster Declaration by Governor

Dateline: Porter Ranch

The growing concern over the massive leak of methane gas and other harmful chemicals at the Aliso Canyon facility of the Southern California Gas Company has become urgent.  The methane, leaking since at least late October of 2015 constitutes a dire threat to global warning, pumping an estimated 55,000 kilos of methane into the atmosphere every hour.

Calls for Governor Brown to declare a State of Emergency have gone silent.  Recently, at a mass-meeting of residents at a Porter Ranch church, Attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr publicly called for Gov. Brown to declare a State of Emergency in the area, and begin evacuations of the population until the dangerous leak is stopped.

Kennedy to Gas Company:  “We’re Going to Have a Fist-Fight”

Kathleen Brown, the Gov's Sister
Kathleen Brown, the Gov’s Sister

Kennedy, with other attorneys, are in the process of filing lawsuits against the Gas Company.  He challenged Gov. Brown, a fellow Democrat, to come out of hiding and declare the area a disaster. He questioned that Brown’s continued silence could be because he takes a lot of money from the oil and gas industry?  Or is it because his sister, Kathleen Brown, sits on the Board of Sempra Energy, the parent company to the Gas Company?  Kennedy and others want the entire Aliso facility shut down for safety concerns.

Gas Stored Deep Below the Earth

This call for the complete shut-down of the gas injection facility could have far reaching implications.  The Gas Company uses a geologic formation deep beneath the earth to store the gas, where it is injected under tremendous pressure and compressed so that a lot of gas can be stored there.  There is usually something like 85 billion cubic feet of gas pumped into the formation.  From there, pipelines carry the gas all over Southern California, from Bakersfield to San Diego, where the population depends on gas for heating, hot water, and cooking.  Closing the facility without some form of replacement, could be life-threatening or at the least life-changing for millions of Californians.  The magic of turning on your stove to heat up your dinner, or take a hot shower, or be warm on a cold night would be gone.

Situation Goes Back to World War 2

The use of these underground geologic caves and domes goes back to the days of World War 2.  The United States War Department used these formations to store gas to keep it below the surface in case of air attacks from the Japanese Empire.  After the war, the U.S. War Department “transferred” their rights to the Gas Company for the dome under Playa Vista.  The problem is that it was never legally and full permitted and processed by relevant authorities on the State level, meaning that since the war, all this has been basically illegal, or at best in a “grey area” of legality.  These geologic formations were places that oil had been pumped out, leaving a sort of empty cavern that the War Department and then the Gas Company thought would be fine for the storage of natural gas.  There are many problematic questions about this that have never been answered.

The first question is regarding these caverns.  It was long assumed and propagandized to the public that oil comes from the decay of dead dinosaurs.  Some oil companies, like the old Sinclair Oil Company actually used replicas of dinosaurs in their advertising. New theories, however, claim that the creation of oil is “abiotic”, and is continuous, a result of various chemicals and minerals deep in the earth that are continuously going through a process under tremendous heat and pressure that is creating oil and gas. This would explain why some oil wells that are “worked out”, suddenly become active again.  If this theory is indeed true, then new oil would be seeping back into the old wells.  As we know, some of the chemicals in oil are extremely hazardous to human health.

Some areas of Southern California are still full of working oil fields.  The area was, and continues to be, a bonanza of wealth for the oil companies.  Thousands of wells were punched into the landscape on the west side of Los Angeles.  Venice, the Marina area, even Beverly Hills had hundreds of them.  Many of the old ones were not properly capped off, and were just abandoned, or capped with old technology that would be illegal today.  This lets oil and gas to percolate through the area, sometimes causing death and destruction.

Poisoned Paradise Documentary Series on This Website

At the top menu bar on this website you can view our 4 part documentary series on the entire history of oil and gas in Southern California, going back to the days of the Spanish colonial period.  It covers the drama and the deadly consequences of pumping oil in an urban environment, and how various authorities, including the State of California and the City and County of Los Angeles have turned a blind eye to the problems, and have allowed illegal and non-permitted wells, have approved massive apartment and condo projects without E.I.R. filings, and have put a large part of the population in danger of their lives.

This is Not the First Blow-Out for the Gas Company

In our Documentary series you will see the big Playa Vista blow-out, where a huge flame a hundred feet to two hundred feet high blew from their other injection facility on the West side of Los Angeles.  The Playa Vista area has another one of the underground caverns where gas is pressurized, but when things aren’t done right, the blast can be seen for miles.  Could the methane leak explode at Porter Ranch?  Yes, of course it could.  It is so dangerous that the crews cannot work at night because the lights and generators could spark a massive methane explosion.  The F.A.A. has already banned any aircraft from flying over the area, due to the potential of an explosion.  A video recently posted on youtube shows an infra-red video of the gas leak (methane is odorless and colorless so a regular camera cannot view it).  It will shock you to see just how much methane is pouring out, it looks like a volcano of methane.  Remember that this has been going on at least since October 25th.

Mandatory Evacuation Now!

Many are now calling for the complete mandatory evacuation of the Porter Ranch area.  This is due to several factors.  First, of course, is the possibility of a huge methane explosion, that could literally take out a big part of the area.  The second problem is from the deadly and dangerous chemicals that are possibly being released along with the methane. A list of cancer-causing chemicals would include benzine, and toluene, and even possibly hydrogen sulfide, which can cause brain-damage and even death.  A major worry is that the gas is not just coming up the main pipe, which was sealed at the top.  The gas is leaking deep at the 8,000 ft level, and possibly spreading out and coming up from deep below the earth into any area that it can find a path.  This could include aquifers and underground water streams, meaning that the water would become poisoned and the gas could travel and pop up somewhere else.  This has happened many times before in our recent past.  Remember how methane from old oil wells seeped into the basements of department stores in the shopping center at 3rd and Fairfax in the Hollywood area?  One spark ignited the methane, which blew up and killed and wounded several people.  Methane had seeped under the parking lot and the flames were coming up from cracks in the parking lot.  It was like hell was coming to the surface.  The schools in Porter Ranch have now been closed by the Los Angeles Board of Education.  It took them 2 months, but at least they have done it now.  The Gas Company is making a half-hearted effort to voluntarily relocate residents, but the process is flawed because they want you to pay first and then get reimbursed.  How about the Gas Company pay hotels or apartments directly?  They caused this problem.  How can it be expected that a resident, still paying a mortgage on his house, now has to come up with money for a temporary place to live?

Months of Pain Ahead 

Nice New Building for the Oil and Gas Folks
Nice New Building for the Oil and Gas Folks

This story is far from over.  The Gas Company estimates that it will take months for them to fix this one well.  And that does not make the public rest easy, since there are over 100 more wells in the field.  How many of them are up to code?  How many do not have complete concrete casings, and have disintegrating pipes due to the corrosion of chemicals like hydrogen sulfide?  They need to fix these wells, at their own expense, not through hiking rates.  Sempra Energy just moved into their new snazzy 120 million dollar headquarters building in San Diego.  We are so happy for them, making so much money that they can afford such luxury for their executives.  Meanwhile, the hard-working middle class folks in Porter Ranch are seeing their businesses, their homes, everything they worked so hard for, going up in a cloud of methane gas. It just ain’t right.

Posted by Uncle Paulie