“When this storage facility was built, this was not a heavily populated area. [Play del Rey] is now a heavily populated area.” Vice Mayor Daniel Lee underscored the main reason that the State of California was considering studying the possible closure of natural gas storage in Playa del Rey. Lee had requested that it be agendized, and reflected that Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin had already had an item before the City of Los Angeles, calling for not just study, but closure.
The agenda item for the Culver City Council meeting on Feb. 22, 2021 was a fairly simple ‘resolution to support’ a study on closing down the natural gas storage facility. While it’s not located in Culver City, the facility is close enough that Culver City residents would be directly effected in case of a crisis.
The natural gas storage facility, located at 8141 Guiana Ave., is even older than the one that infamously blew out at Aliso Canyon. That event leaked gas from October of 2015 to February of 2016, leaving a carbon footprint said to be larger than the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf Coast that began in 2010.
More than a dozen people spoke to the meeting from the virtual podium, advocating for the closure of the facility; few of them neglected to mention Aliso Canyon. The fact that the natural gas storage is located under the Ballona Wetlands also drew significant comments, with both Patricia McPherson and Marcia Hanscom offering the urgency of the environmental need to shut the facility down.
McPherson of the Grassroots Coalition noted “A study should include the de-commissioning of the facility. We have a great deal of data [to share] in regard to leakage in to the reservoir. We also have a de-commissioning study that SoCalGas itself did years ago, which I hope can lead the way.”
Hansom noted that “Many people don’t realize that this facility is under the wetlands… everything happening there with [industrial] activity and chemicals [is negatively effecting] the wetlands.”
Only one speaker from SoCalGas joined the meeting, noting that Culver CityBus runs on natural gas. It was pointed out that the buses run on recycled natural gas, and so the facility at Play del Rey was not their source of fuel.
While Lee motioned to support Bonin’s proposal, both Goran Eriksson and Albert Vera leaned to supporting the study to accumulate more information first.
Noting the speed at which these proposals often advance, Mayor Alex Fisch said “I don’t think we have to worry a whole lot to think we are doing something calamitously rapid; there are many other [agencies] who will slow this down.”
City Clerk Jeremy Green noted that the item would need to return, as it had not been crafted for the agenda to be specific to Culver City.
The motion passed 4 to 1, with Eriksson, voting no.