Aug. 9 (UPI) -- State and city officials in California unveiled details of a $195 million settlement with a gas company to help mitigate the effects of a major 2015 gas leak.
A gas facility at Aliso Canyon, near Los Angeles, leaked methane from late October 2015 to early 2016 following a blowout. Residents in the area were forced to relocate to temporary housing while state, federal and the Southern California Gas Co. worked to control the leak.
The faulty well at the Aliso Canyon storage facility was permanently sealed with cement and taken out of service in mid-February 2016. SoCalGas, city and state officials said they reached a settlement that addresses the impact of what Los Angeles officials said was the largest gas leak in U.S. history.
"When my office filed our lawsuit against SoCalGas, 975 days ago, I had three key goals: that there be a judicially-enforceable climate change mitigation plan; that strong measures are in place to prevent a disaster like this from happening again; and that SoCalGas be held accountable," City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. "We've achieved these goals, and much more."
Many area residents were sickened by the release. While methane is non-toxic, it's more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. According to advocacy group Greenpeace, the site was leaking the equivalent of the exhaust from 7 million cars every day.
If approved by the court, the settlement mandates an eight-year monitoring period, calls on SoCalGas to avoid shifting the costs to ratepayers and instead allocate the settlement payments toward long-term health studies.
SoCalGas said it was committed to reimbursing city, county and state agencies for the costs associated with the leak response as well as fund local environmental projects.
"The settlement will also help California meet its ambitious climate goals by advancing projects that capture methane from dairy farms and waste and convert that energy into renewable natural gas for use in transportation," President and CEO Bret Lane said in a statement.
California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 signed an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from their 1990 levels by 2030, which the state government said was the most ambitious target in North America.