NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA.com) — A group of state lawmakers unveiled a package of proposals Monday in response to the ongoing methane gas leak in Porter Ranch as about 1,800 students temporarily relocated from two local schools get ready to start class on Tuesday.
About 1,100 students from Porter Ranch Community School have been relocated to Northridge Middle School. And more than 700 kids from Castlebay Lane Charter Elementary School have been relocated to Sunny Brae Elementary School in Winnetka. The children will attend classes in bungalows on those campuses.
“Looking at the facility and the way that this all came together so quickly. I’m very excited about it,” said parent Alice Lee.
But Sue Chandra is not excited about driving out of her way to take her children to the new location. “For the parents’ sake, it’s very hard. You know, going to work, you have to take another extra hour to drive all the way down here where it was only five minutes away from home,” she said.
So far, the moves are costing the district about $5 million. It said it is working with SoCal Gas Co. responsible for the leak to recoup the money.
Meanwhile, the proposed state legislation calls for an immediate moratorium on injecting any more gas into the well in Aliso Canyon and stepped-up inspections of aging wells statewide.
“We need to have more inspections, more proactive inspections,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills. “We need to have a plan as infrastructure ages out — some kind of policy and timeline for replacement. Always err on the side of caution, not hoping with your fingers crossed that there won’t be a problem.”
One of the bills Pavley and other legislators plan to introduce would require oversight of methane gas facilities. The bill would also require a utility responsible for environmental damage to bear the full cost of remediation without passing the bill to ratepayers.
The proposed legislation will also include requirements for inspections of storage facilities across California, mandating such inspections over the next 12 months, then at least once a year afterward.
The senators noted that more than half of the roughly 420 gas storage wells in the state are more than 40 years old. They said 48 of the 111 storage wells at Aliso Canyon were drilled in 1953 or earlier.
The Aliso Canyon leak was discovered Oct. 23. Hundreds of Porter Ranch residents have complained about feeling sick. Thousands have been temporarily moved out of the area, and thousands more are looking to move.
Southland air quality regulators are proposing an abatement order that would require the SoCal Gas to install equipment to capture and incinerate natural gas leaking from the well.
Multiple lawsuits have already been filed against SoCal Gas over the leak, including one by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. He announced Monday that Los Angeles County has joined that litigation.