Methane leak detected at Aliso Canyon facility; not considered health risk

PORTER RANCH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- SoCalGas inspectors detected methane gas Saturday that seeped out of soil near a gas well that had leaked and was plugged at the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility.

The leak was detected using infra-red camera technology around 7:45 a.m. on Christmas Eve. A spokesperson said it was slight and intermittent.

Officials believe the gas escaped from the soil possibly because of the recent weather. The site was monitored overnight and levels dipped then went up again, officials said.

The spokesperson for SoCalGas also added that no odors were detected and that the leak does not pose a threat to health, safety or the environment.

A well at the facility had a massive leak that started in October 2015 and was not capped until mid-February 2016. It was the nation's largest methane leak ever, emitting around 100,000 tons into the air and forcing thousands of Porter Ranch families to relocate for months.

Residents said they received an email from SoCalGas Saturday afternoon about the methane leak, but it was hours after it was discovered.

"We're always told after the fact. We're never told when it's happening," resident Alice Kazcor said.

Residents said this is especially important since some are still suffering from symptoms they believe come from inhaling the high levels of gas that emitted from the well.

Kazcor said she and her husband constantly take Tylenol and other painkillers to subdue headaches they get daily.

SoCalGas released a statement Monday.

"The methane releases are very slight and not believed to pose a present or potential hazard to human health, safety or the environment. The highly sensitive infra-red camera images indicate an amount similar to the wisping vapors of a single table candle," the statement said.

Since the massive leak, dozens of new safety recommendations were issued for natural gas storage facilities all over the nation.

Residents in the Porter Ranch community continue to push for the closure of the facility.

The utility company held meetings last week to inform community members on the progress of a project that would improve the delivery of "safe and reliable" gas to homes and businesses.
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