This Tuesday evening, April 16, at 7:00PM, Sierra Club Airport-Marina Group is hosting a riveting show-and-tell at Burton-Chace Park. This will be an informative meeting about the background and current hazards of SOCALGAS/Playa del Rey, including explosive incidents.
Oil & Gas Industry Expert Dr. Tom Williams and Grassroots Coalition’s Patricia McPherson, together fueled with over seventy combined years of experience, will talk to us about what’s going on in the field.
• What’s underground?
• What’s the threat?
• What can we do about it?
Video images of the MDR re-abandonment blowout of January 11, 2019 provide dramatic evidence of on-going gas hazards in the area – and proof that whatever the industry says, existing safety measures aren’t enough. The cell-phone footage shows an oil rig worker scurrying down a Geronimo Safety Line to escape the 60’ plus geyser of oilfield gas and fluids.
Only a few years earlier, controlled “outgassing” at another nearby construction site yielded dangerously high levels of H2S, and experts from the Department of Toxic Substances were called in to investigate. The latest incident follows a lengthy string of dramatic oilfield fires, explosions, and outgassing in the Ballona region.
Is this symptomatic of a malady that has plagued the Ballona region since the mid-50’s when SOCALGAS took ownership of the underground gas storage operations?
Though the company maintains that the gas is safely contained, it isn’t. And never was.
After WWII, SCG took ownership of the underground gas storage operations within the approved 240 acres, south of the Ballona Channel. The company pumped as much gas as possible into the storage area to maximize profits and the result was a build-up of pressure. It had long been known that injection levels of more than 750 pounds per square inch (psi) would push the gas out of the storage area into whatever natural conduits might exist throughout the Playa del Rey/ Venice subsurface.
When SCG took over control, it upped the pressures to approximately 1700 psi – more than twice the pressure known to cause gases to migrate beyond the approved underground storage reservoir, more than twice the storage pressure approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.
No expansion permits were ever requested. No approvals for expansion were ever given.
With a career behind her of investigating SCG/PDR operations, Patricia McPherson has consequential evidence of threats to the region: What we do know is that SCG knowingly undertook gas storage operations within a partially depleted oilfield where hundreds of well bores interconnected to the oilfield and gas storage zones. These interconnections are pathways that allow gas to migrate as wells deteriorate, and they all do.
Worse, high levels of benzene and other toxins from the oilfield mingle with the injected gases and leak when they do. SoCalGas has not met the most basic standard of care for safe operations.
The City gave SCG a Conditional Use Permit in the mid 50’s that provided for termination of any operation that caused gases to leak to the surface. This Condition has been violated. Even so, SCG has continually assured the City that its reservoir gas does not surface and does not contain high levels of toxins.