The Latest: Gas storage field that leaked methane to reopen

The Latest on California approving reopening of gas storage field (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The head of the California Energy Commission says he'll work to shut down a gas storage facility that leaked immense amounts of methane, even though it's being allowed to reopen in the short run.

Commission Chairman Robert Weisenmiller says his staff is prepared to work on phasing out the Aliso Canyon field within ten years.

On Wednesday, two state agencies announced that the field in Los Angeles had passed safety tests and will be allowed to accept new natural gas supplies up to about 28 percent of its capacity.

The idea is to have enough gas to prevent an energy shortage in Southern California. Operations could resume in a week or two.

Critics want the field permanently closed because of a four-month methane leak in 2015 that drove thousands of people from their homes.


3:31 p.m.

California officials have approved resuming operations at a Los Angeles gas storage facility where a leak spewed methane for nearly four months.

Two state agencies said Wednesday that the Southern California Gas Co. can resume storing natural gas at the Aliso Canyon facility, which stopped operations after an October 2015 blowout.

However, storage will be restricted to about 28 percent of the field's capacity.

The blowout led to the largest-known release of methane in the U.S. and the stench drove 8,000 families from their homes. Residents complained of nosebleeds, nausea, headaches, rashes and other maladies.

Angry residents and several advocacy groups want the facility permanently shuttered. They also asked the state to not allow a re-start until an investigation found the cause of the leak.

The blowout has cost SoCalGas more than $760 million though it expects insurance to cover most expenses.