PORTER RANCH, Calif., Jan. 03, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- “Newly uncovered information shows that Southern California Gas Company admitted five years ago it operated numerous leaking wells in Aliso Canyon, received a ratepayer increase to upgrade these wells-and yet deliberately failed to replace safety valves on its gas injection wells,” said Patricia Oliver with the R. Rex Parris Law Firm. “The result of SoCalGas’s indifference to public safety is the massive gas well failure that forced thousands of Porter Ranch residents from their homes.”
“At a meeting on December 29th with the Porter Ranch Community Advisory Committee, SoCalGas admitted that the new and replacement wells that they drill do not have the safety valves. This shocking admission came nearly five years after SoCalGas requested regulatory permission to increase rates to replace the many leaking valves at the Aliso Canyon storage field. There are over 90 gas injection wells at Aliso Canyon, one of the largest storage facilities in the nation,” said environmentalist lawyer and activist Robert Kennedy Jr., who has joined attorneys Brian Panish and R. Rex Parris in representing families in Porter Ranch.
“Despite the ratepayer increase and its annual profits of nearly $100 million, SoCalGas ‘slow-walked’ the replacement of valves. In 2010, SoCalGas proposed spending $898,000 per year to replace five percent of its leaking valves each year -- a 20-year program before the field was rendered safe,” said attorney R. Rex Parris.
In an interview with LA Weekly, SoCalGas executive Rodger Schwecke confirmed the gas company's cavalier approach to public safety at Aliso Canyon began over three decades ago.
"In 1979, SoCalGas told the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources that it ‘replaced’ the subsurface safety system on the injection well that blew out. In fact, as Mr. Schwecke disclosed, SoCalGas actually removed the safety valve because it was old, leaking and difficult to find a new part. Instead, the company opted not to replace it because SS-25 wasn't a 'critical well'," said attorney Brian Panish. "One of the fundamental requirements of a company given a monopoly to provide natural gas services in Southern California is that they do so in a safe manner. This safety requirement applies to all aspects of their operation, from the pipelines and distribution systems to their storage fields. While utility companies often seek to pass on the costs of upgrades or safety projects to ratepayers by claiming the projects were unexpected and resulted from new regulations, that argument fails when applied to Aliso Canyon.”
The recent admission by SoCalGas that it removed the safety valve prompted an amended class action lawsuit already filed in connection with the massive gas well blowout. “This aging, deteriorating and dangerous facility needs to be shut down immediately,” stated Matt Pakucko, president of the community group Save Porter Ranch.
To read the complaint, click here. http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f00dd871-41d3-4490-86cd-e557e132cb04
“SoCalGas proved that it places profits before safety, even after it convinced regulators to hike ratepayer rates to pay for “safety” valves. The failure of SoCalGas to install safety valves after receiving approval to increase rates to do so reinforces why I demanded that SoCalGas be prohibited from increasing rates to pay for the damages it caused the community of Porter Ranch. SoCalGas knew of leaking underground storage wells, and obtained the right to increase rates to fix those dangerous gas wells. SoCalGas chose not to address immediately a problem that was, and continues to be, a massive danger to public safety and our environment," said R. Rex Parris. “The blowout of the SoCalGas well has displaced thousands of families and made hundreds more sick. The problem lies solely at the feet of SoCalGas and its shareholders, and Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) should pay for this environmental catastrophe.”
“There is no excuse for SoCalGas to let numerous leaking wells continue to remain in place for years at Aliso Canyon. Had SoCalGas simply maintained the safety valves in Aliso Canyon, we would not be faced with the disastrous well failure in Porter Ranch,” concluded Oliver.
For more information and to view the massive amount of poisonous gas being emitted by the shocking and unprecedented well failure, visit www.porterranchlawsuit.com.
About Kennedy & Madonna
Kennedy & Madonna, LLP is an environmental law firm that specializes in representing communities that have been impacted by pollution. The firm uses a variety of legal tools including federal citizen suits, administrative challenges, and tort law to hold polluters accountable for their actions. The firm was formed in 2000 by founding partners Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kevin J. Madonna. For more information, visit www.kennedymadonna.com
About Panish Shea & Boyle LLP
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP is a plaintiff's personal injury law firm that takes on large corporations and government entities whose negligence causes our clients' injuries and holds them accountable. In June 2014, Panish Shea & Boyle obtained at $19.8 million jury verdict to a man who suffered severe burn and traumatic brain injuries when his rental home exploded as a result of a Southern California Gas Company's negligence. In 2008, the firm obtained a $15 million jury verdict against SoCalGas for a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a company truck. Panish Shea & Boyle LLP also represented numerous plaintiffs in the San Bruno PG&E gas explosion cases. Our attorneys are and have always been champions of consumer rights. The size, clout or financial strength of wrongdoers is never a deterrent to our pursuit for justice. For more information, visit www.psblaw.com
About the Law Firm of Morgan & Morgan
Morgan & Morgan is one of the largest exclusively plaintiffs' law firms in the US, with 25 offices throughout Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York. The firm handles cases nationally and has been a leader in cases such as the BP Oil spill and Chinese Drywall litigation. We have over 300 lawyers with years of experience involving personal injury, medical malpractice, consumer class action, and securities fraud--as well as complex litigation against drug and medical device manufacturers. For more information, visit www.forthepeople.com
About The R. Rex Parris Law Firm
For over 30 years, R. Rex Parris has devoted his practice to protecting the rights of injured people and aggrieved workers. With over $1.1 Billion recovered on behalf of clients, Rex and his dedicated team has the experience and track record necessary to help families in need. The R. Rex Parris Law Firm provides thorough, high-quality representation with integrity and compassion. These lawyers fight aggressively to ensure their clients get the compensation they deserve. For more information, visit www.rrexparris.com.
Source: R. Rex Parris Law Firm