PSE Energy Quarterly is the newsletter of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to supplying evidence-based scientific and technical information on the public health, environmental, and climate dimensions of energy production and use.

Aliso Canyon Reckoning

Alis Canyon storage facility

The 2015 well blowout at Aliso Canyon underground gas-storage facility led to a state mandate for an independent scientific assessment of the risks posed by these facilities. Photo: Courtesy of Earthworks

Explosions, fires, and toxic air-pollution emissions top the list of human health risks associated with California’s underground natural-gas storage system, according to a report released January 18 by the California Council on Science and Technology. In addition, workers and neighboring communities are exposed to health-damaging pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene that are emitted during both routine operations and uncontrolled blowouts at these facilities, the report found — chemicals that are associated with health issues such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, respiratory illness, and some cancers.

The health assessment, led by PSE Healthy Energy, was part of a report (Section 1.4, pages 167-279) commissioned in the wake of the 2015 well blowout at the SoCalGas-operated Aliso Canyon natural-gas storage field in Southern California, which is widely considered to be the largest single-source release of methane in U.S. history. Read the news story.

  • illustration of city with both sunshine and pollution
  • Oil industry well pumps at sunset