LA City Council calls on Gov. Newsom to close natural gas storage facility in Playa Del Rey

PLAYA DEL REY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles City Council is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to shut down a natural gas storage facility in Playa Del Rey, which experts believe is at high risk for tsunamis and wildfires and poses a threat to nearby residents.

"Some of my neighbors feel the way I do, that we're just sitting on top of a little ticking time bomb, just waiting for something to happen," said local resident Patricia Shiepe.

The council this week pass a resolution, which was introduced by Councilman Mike Bonin and passed with 13 yes votes and two members absent, calling on the governor to close the facility.

The resolution noted that a 2018 study by the California Council on Science and Technology found that the facility "stands out as a facility with relatively higher risk to health and safety than the other facilities in California."

The site at 8141 Gulana Ave. is close to LAX and has a large population living nearby, and in the event of a gas leak, could become an environmental disaster, the study found.

"What the council pointed out is that it's incredibly close compared to other the population," Ethan Senser, an organizer with Food and Water Watch. "This facility is literally underneath people's homes."

City officials say they're hoping to prevent a gas leak similar to the 2015 methane leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility.

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A report faults SoCal Gas Co. for the way it maintained its natural gas storage field before the massive release of methane in Aliso Canyon in 2015.

Eight thousand people were forced to evacuate due to that incident, which has been deemed one of the worst gas leaks in the nation's history.

"We've seen the harm that this facility does to the community, just in every day release of toxins and carcinogens," Senser said. "We've (also) seen what happens when something goes wrong, like Aliso Canyon."

SoCal Gas says the Playa Del Rey facility is important to its operations.

In a statement, the utility said it "supports the integration of renewable energy like solar and wind during unfavorable weather conditions, keeps customer bills affordable by allowing our region to buy and store natural gas when prices are low."

But many residents want the facility shut down.

"It's a lot safer, it's less worries...I would be happy about it," Shiepe said.

SoCal Gas added that it has completed extensive safety enhancements at the storage facility.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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