Santa Barbara County Planning and Development czar Glenn Russell stated there are “no similarities” between SoCal Gas’s uncontrolled leak at its Porter Ranch natural gas underground storage field in Los Angeles and the same company’s La Goleta storage field located in Goleta. Russell said he’s been asked about the storage yard for La Goleta by the staffs of two county supervisors, not to mention multiple members of the public. Unlike the Porter Ranch leak, which gave rise to thousands of odor complaints by sickened residents nearby, no complaints have been reported about La Goleta.
The Porter Ranch underground injections wells first sprung a leak October 23, and SoCal Gas hasn’t been able to plug it since. The utility has been ordered to relocate thousands of residents who can no longer live in their homes. Russell said county inspectors checked out all of La Goleta’s aboveground pumps, pipes, and other infrastructure on November 17. The underground infrastructure, however, is the domain of DOGGR, otherwise known as the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources. Russell said he did not know when this state agency — regarded with growing skepticism by fracking critics — last inspected La Goleta.
Last year the California Coastal Commission approved a plan to expand the storage capacity of the field from 21.5 billion cubic feet of gas by three to five billion additional cubic feet. Two of the three wells approved for this have been drilled. For this capacity expansion to occur, the “native gases” occupying space under the ground would have to be first expelled. That has not happened. SoCal Gas has used the La Goleta field as an underground storage facility since 1941, and reports of gas injection date back to the 1930s. Porter Ranch wells were drilled in the 1950s.