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Disastrously Leaking Gas Well in Porter Ranch Hasn't Had a Safety Valve Since 1979

It was revealed last week that the Southern California Gas Company, proprietors of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility that has been leaking enormous amounts of methane into the air for months now, knew it was probably just a matter of time before their aging and corroding pipes sprung a leak, and now lawyers representing a group of Porter Ranch residents who are suing the company say that there was even more malpractice—according to the lawyers, the well now spewing tons and tons of methane into the air near the Valley community of Porter Ranch didn't even have a safety valve, the LA Times reports; apparently, it was removed in 1979 and never replaced.

An attorney for the residents concedes that the valve wouldn't have completely stopped the leak, but says the safety device could have prevented the steady flow of stinky fumes into the surrounding residential area, which has led to the relocation of thousands of residents since the leak began on October 23. (Prior to that, residents complained of headaches, nausea, and other ailments that health experts have said are short-term effects from the chemical added to the gas so that leaks can be detected more easily.) "Had we had [the safety valve], this whole problem would have been prevented. There would have been a small runoff of some gas and it would have been over," one lawyer says.

An official spokesperson for the gas company confirms that the well didn't have "a deep subsurface valve," adding that the device wasn't required by law. According to lawyers, a Southern California Gas Company exec stated at a public meeting in December that the valve was removed because it was old and ineffective, and it wasn't replaced because the well it was on wasn't considered a "critical well," meaning it was further than 300 feet away from homes in the area. (The leak is about a mile from residents.)

Locals are not convinced. The lawsuit that residents had already filed against the gas company has since been amended to include the removal of the safety valve. Meanwhile, the leak isn't expected to be fixed until at least February, and possibly even March.
· Leaking gas well in Porter Ranch area lacked a working safety valve [LAT]
· SoCal Gas Company Knew It Had Failing Pipes at Site of Massive Porter Ranch Gas Leak [Curbed LA]
· An Insane Amount of Natural Gas is Leaking Into the Valley's Porter Ranch Neighborhood [Curbed LA]