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Southern California Gas Co. fined $2.25 million for pipeline safety violations

Sempra Energy, parent of Southern California Gas Co., reorganized its management ranks.
(Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)

State regulators have fined Southern California Gas Co. $2.25 million for failing to promptly fix corrosion control systems used on its underground natural gas pipelines.

The California Public Utilities Commission cited the utility for 45 safety violations found during inspections in the Mid-City and Harbor area in April and May of 2015.

The citation found violations of state and federal requirements in the gas company’s cathodic protection systems, which are designed to prevent external corrosion by applying an electric current to underground steel pipelines.

Between 2011 and 2015 the utility failed to fix 125 deficient corrosion prevention systems within the required 15 months, in some cases waiting more than three years, according to the citation. The utilities commission cited the company for 45 of those deficiencies that exceeded two years, saying they “presented unacceptable risk to safe operations.”

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In an emailed statement, the gas company said it “has taken responsibility at the highest levels to address the issue by actively implementing system-wide corrective actions” and will “work diligently to address all required remediation.”

The utility said that 40 of the 45 deficient corrosion prevention systems identified by regulators “have been addressed and are operating normally.”

“The five remaining cathodic protection areas are being actively worked on and are expected to operate normally within the next few months,” the company said.

The utility said it maintained more than 20,000 corrosion protection systems and called them one of several tools, including leak surveys and physical inspections, used monitor its pipelines.

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The firm has until Monday to correct the violations or submit a plan to do so and to either pay the fine or contest it.

The integrity of natural gas infrastructure has come under increased scrutiny nationwide since the blowout of a well at the gas company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility near Porter Ranch last fall. Thousands of San Fernando Valley residents were forced to relocated because of the massive leak, which lasted nearly four months.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

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@tonybarboza


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