Task force seeks to avoid another Aliso Canyon methane leak
By Jodi Delapaz
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2016 - Recommendations to help reduce the risk of natural gas leak incidents are featured in a new report by the Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety.
The task force was established in the wake of last year's massive natural gas leak at California's Aliso Canyon site, located in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch, Los Angeles.
Gases escaping from a well within Aliso Canyon's underground storage facility effectively doubled the methane emission rate of the entire Los Angeles Basin at its peak. In total, 97,100 metric tons of methane were released to the atmosphere, says the task force of researchers who published their findings in the journal Science.
The leak, which was discovered by SoCalGas employees on Oct. 23, 2015, was permanently plugged on Feb. 18, 2016, nearly four months later. It was the largest ever gas leak from a U.S. storage facility, the researchers say.
The task force, co-chaired by Franklin Orr, the U.S. Department of Energy's under secretary for science and energy, and Marie-Therese Dominguez, administrator of the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), looked at three primary areas: well integrity, health and environment, and energy reliability.
Among other findings, the task force recommends that, “except under limited circumstances,” facility operators phase out single-point-of-failure designs that contributed to the inability to swiftly control and repair the Aliso Canyon leak.
Natural gas storage facility operators should also conduct risk assessments, develop and implement transition plans to address high-risk infrastructure and apply “robust” procedures to maintain safety and reliability while the transition to modern well design standards is occurring, the report finds.
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