Safety Concerns

According to residents, the Avondale-Glen Elder neighborhood initially welcomed the natural gas storage proposal by SNGS. The SNGS offered to fund a foundation for the community, provide annual lease payments to property owners, and ensured the public safety of residents.  The Avondale-Glen Elder Neighborhood Association (AGENA) then contacted Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) to advise residents on how to prepare a Community Benefits Agreement with SNGS.  During these negotiations, AGENA members requested information regarding the safety of the project.  AGENA members, unsatisfied with the SNGS efforts to respond to safety concerns, continued to express fears regarding the safety of storing such a large quantity of gas beneath a high density residential community and persisted in asking the question “Is it safe?”

SNGS Project Facilites

(Image from SNGS website: http://www.sacnaturalgas.com/)

Responding to community concerns, SNGS arranged for AGENA representatives to visit the Playa del Rey community in Southern California where another underground storage facility is currently in operation.  The intent of the visit was to provide an indication of what Avondale-Glen Elder residents could expect when the SNGS storage site is fully operational.  In a recent June 10, 2012  editorial submitted to the Sacramento Bee, SNGS President Donald Russell touted the Playa del Rey storage facility as an example of a safely operated site in a residential community.  During the visit, conversations with Playa del Rey residents revealed a number of complaints and safety concerns that resulted in legal actions on behalf of the local neighborhood association .  More info on Playa del Rey can be found here.  Playa residents complained of gas odors and air quality samples revealed abnormally high levels of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical (read the article here).

The actions of Playa residents along with a recent settlement with Southern California Gas led AGENA to seek an independent unbiased review of safety concerns.  Over the objections of SNGS, AGENA requested an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) from the California Public Utilities Commission to determine if the SNGS project would have adverse effects on the Avondale-Glen Elder community (Read more about the EIR results here).  Videos on neighborhood safety concerns here.