PORTER RANCH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Months after the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history forced thousands of people from their homes, officials are debating whether to reopen a Southern California Gas Co. storage facility amid dire warnings of power outages this summer.
The shutdown of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility is likely to lead up to 14 days of blackouts this summer, officials warned recently.
The facility is the largest natural gas storage area in the West, and provides power for running electrical plants in the summer when demand spikes. Aliso Canyon supplies natural gas to 17 power plants in the Los Angeles area.
"It is a vital component to the energy generation and supply for the state of California," argued City Councilman Felipe Fuentes.
Thousands of residents in the Porter Ranch area were forced from their homes when the facility developed a leak that wasn't capped for about four months. Many complained of headaches, nosebleeds and other reactions.
Now, many of those residents, as well as some environmental activists, say the storage facility should be shut down for good.
"It's horrendous at this point to even have the discussion," said Porter Ranch resident Kemani Bandy. "You still have not dealt with the lives that you've already interrupted."
Alexandra Nagy, with the group Food and Water Watch, argues that there are other gas storage and supply facilities available in Southern California.
"SoCal Gas wants to open that facility because it's a huge moneymaker for them," Nagy said. "It's not about energy reliability."
City official note the dilemma puts them stuck between two bad options.
"We can have up to 14 days of blackouts with no power, or we can risk putting facilities back online that are going to put to risk hundreds of thousands of people's lives," said City Councilman Mitch Englander.