The venting of a Southern California Gas Co. compressor in Ventura rattled some nearby residents over the past weekend, but utility officials said it was no cause for alarm.
Some residents called officials about the scent of natural gas, suspecting a possible leak from the pressurizing facility.
SoCal gas officials said that while the venting around 3:45 p.m. Friday was “unplanned,” the gas was safely dispersed through a relief vent stack — as the operation is designed to do.
“Some people in the area may have smelled an odor as the result of this venting,” Christine Detz, a spokesperson for the utility, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “This controlled venting of natural gas was not a threat to public health or safety.”
The Ventura Fire Department responded to a call of natural gas odors in the area on Friday and left after about 20 minutes after its gas detector showed no dangerous levels in the air, Fire Chief David Endaya said.
Some nearby residents and staff at the E.P. Foster Elementary School across the street from the gas compressor self-evacuate, Endaya said.
Ventura spokesperson Heather Sumagaysay said the city has reached out to Southern California Gas Company for more information about the incident and to make sure the city is made aware of similar occurrences in the future.
Endaya said residents should continue to call the fire department if they smell natural gas.
“We need to determine the level of danger,” he said.
Tomas Rebecchi, an organizer with the environmental group Food & Water Watch who lives near the facility disputed the utility’s characterization of the venting.
“It’s still harmful,” Rebecchi said of the utility calling the incident a venting. “No matter what they say. It’s not dissipated if residents are smelling it.”
Rebecchi and other environmental activists and residents have raised numerous health and safety concerns over the company’s plans to modernize the gas compressor station that serves Ventura and surrounding communities.
He and other groups have marched in protest of the facility, cited in a NASA study as a “super emitter” of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The 2017 study prompted the utility to fix the leakage.
Wes Woods II covers West County for the Ventura County Star. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 805-437-0262 or https://twitter.com/JournoWes
Read More: Officials cite unplanned venting following Ventura gas leak scare