Utility to pay $119.5 million settlement after massive 2015 natural gas leak

A natural gas well pad at Aliso Canyon.

Enlarge / A rig stands over a well pad at the Southern California Gas Co. Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, on Thursday, January 12, 2017. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge approved a $ 119.5 million settlement between Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). SoCalGas was responsible for the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility when one of the 115 storage wells at the site started leaking methane dramatically.

Stanching the leak took nearly five months, and in that time 109,000 metric tons of methane was spewed into the atmosphere.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, capable of trapping more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, although methane is shorter-lived. In addition to the headaches and nosebleeds suffered by the people living in the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood, researchers later concluded that the leak had doubled the methane emissions rate of the whole Los Angeles Basin.

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