Federal regulators, responding to the Aliso Canyon gas leak, have proposed new safety procedures for all underground natural gas storage facilities in the nation.
The new procedures, developed by the , will be overseen by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration when enacted.
In addition to Aliso Canyon, operated by Southern California Gas Co., which is the largest in the nation, California has another major underground gas storage facility at McDonald Island in San Joaquin County, which is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
“We wanted to take advantage of the lessons learned from Aliso Canyon and analyze how we could apply those lessons to the more than 400 underground natural gas storage facilities in the country,” said Franklin Orr, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department.
The Aliso Canyon leak, which began in October of 2015, released about 95,000 tons of methane before it was capped in February. State regulators are overseeing SoCal Gas tests of all 114 wells at the facility.
“SoCalGas has cooperated fully with the task force, and is committed to supporting forward-looking and reasonable regulations that promote safety at natural gas storage facilities,” a company spokesman said.
Many of the recommendations made by the task force in its 83-page report focus on inspection and maintenance of piping in wells and in transmission systems. Of particular concern were wells with no secondary casing.
Regulators noted that 80% of the wells in storage facilities across the nation were drilled before 1980, and were originally designed for oil production rather than natural gas storage.