ABC 30 Action News Fresno reports that the gas leak was discovered late last Friday but Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) Co. does not know how long the line had been releasing gas before it was discovered.
SoCalGas, the state’s largest utility company, has not determined what caused the rupture, but it is looking into the possibility that the underground line may have been damaged by a farm tractor.
No fires or explosions resulted from the leak, but it has interrupted service to some of the industrial businesses that receive gas from that line. The repair work also required authorities to close off roads in the area.
“Where the damage is, we dig holes down to the pipe on either side of it and tap into that pipeline,” SoCalGas Public Affairs Manager Rob Duchow told ABC 30. “We want a new bypass pipeline around the damage.
“That way we can direct gas through the bypass pass, stop the leak and then we can excavate and repair the damage,” he added.
Once thee bypass is complete, crews can then access he broken line and determine what kind of repairs are need. SoCalGas couldn’t say how long it would take to repair the line once the bypass is finished.
In October 2015, a leak from SoCalGas Co.’s natural gas well near Porter Ranch, California, released plumes of toxic gas into the air in the Los Angeles area for months before the utility finally stopped it on Feb. 18, 2016.
That leak, considered by many environmentalists to be the equivalent of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill for the atmosphere, exposed communities to toxic benzene and forced the evacuations of thousands of people. It ultimately prompted U.S. lawmakers to pass the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (“PIPES Act”) of 2016 and led to other safety initiatives at the state level.