Het gaslek in de gasopslag in Californië leek aanvankelijk te zijn veroorzaakt door een lekkend ondergrond veiligheidsventiel (sub-surface safety valve om precies te zijn) dat al 40 jaar niet geïnspecteerd is, zo bericht de LA Weekly. Bij nader inzien blijkt het onderdeel niet stuk maar 40 jaar geleden al verwijderd:
Gas leaks are not uncommon, and it took a couple weeks for this one to become news. When Anderle heard about it, in early November, she pulled up the well record on a state website. The file dates back to when the well was drilled in 1953. As she looked it over, she zeroed in on a piece of equipment 8,451 feet underground called a sub-surface safety valve.
If it were working properly, the gas company would be able to shut down the well. The fact that SoCalGas hadn’t meant, to her, that it must be broken. The records indicated that it had not been inspected since 1976.
“That’s almost 40 years,” she says. “It’s a long time to leave it in the well.”
As weeks went by and further efforts to stop the leak failed, it became clear that the company was dealing with an unprecedented catastrophe.
On Dec. 15, the Weekly interviewed Rodger Schwecke, a SoCalGas executive who is helping to coordinate the response to the leak. Asked about the safety valve, he said it wasn’t damaged. It actually wasn’t there.
“We removed that valve in 1979,” he said.