Council panel seeks study on closure of gas storage facility

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Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee has moved forward a resolution calling for a study into the feasibility of shutting down the Playa del Rey natural gas storage facility, which the resolution said is at high risk of tsunamis, wildfire and endangering residents.

The resolution, which was introduced by City Councilman Mike Bonin, notes that a 2018 study by the California Council on Science and Technology found that the facility “stands out as a facility with relatively higher risk to health and safety than the other facilities in California.”

The site at 8141 Gulana Ave. is close to LAX and has a large population living nearby, and in the event of a gas leak, could become an environmental disaster.

During the 2015 Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility methane leak, 8,000 people had to be evacuated. That was deemed one of the worst natural gas leaks in the United States and one of the worst environmental catastrophes in California history, according to the resolution the committee heard March 17.

The resolution will go before the entire City Council at an undetermined date. If adopted, it would show the council’s support for a study into the feasibility of closing the facility.

As Los Angeles gets ready to finalize a plan for reaching 100% renewable energy, it is time for the governor to do the same,” said Food & Water Watch Southern California organizer Ethan Senser in a statement. “We’ve known for years that natural gas storage facilities like the one at Playa del Rey do not have a future in our energy system or in our neighborhoods.

“It’s time that we started planning for that reality at Playa del Rey,” Senser added. “Governor Newsom has a responsibility to put the needs of the community first.”

The Culver City Council earlier this month approved a similar resolution calling on the state to develop a timeline and plan for closing down the facility.

The facility has been the site of numerous leaks and blowouts, including a vent stack explosion in 2013 that caused a 100-foot flame to shoot into the air. The site was forced to shut down for over a year in 2011 after a series of leaks were discovered by state regulators.