The South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) today issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for failure to properly maintain equipment at its Valley Generating Station (VGS) located in Sun Valley—a violation of its permit.
On August 26, 2020, South Coast AQMD learned of an ongoing methane leak at VGS and conducted an on-site inspection of the facility. Using an optical gas imaging camera and other hand-held equipment, methane emissions in excess of 100,000 parts per million were detected coming from the vents of two natural gas compressors. South Coast AQMD had not received any prior public complaints concerning odors from the facility, nor were any leaks reported.
South Coast AQMD then deployed its mobile monitoring platform to evaluate methane levels in the community. Results from those measurements showed methane readings within typical background levels. Air samples collected on-site showed elevated levels of methane within the perimeter of the facility.
South Coast AQMD inspectors returned to the facility on a weekly basis through the end of the year and have now verified that LADWP has repaired the leaking equipment.
Once issued, NOVs can result in civil penalties. In some cases, the company can choose to implement
voluntary measures to reduce emissions or otherwise prevent further violations. If no settlement is reached, a civil lawsuit may ultimately be filed in superior court.
Methane is regulated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and while South Coast AQMD rules do not regulate methane emissions, the agency will continue to coordinate with CARB on its investigation as needed. VGS operates under South Coast AQMD’s Title V and RECLAIM programs and is subject to annual on-site inspections. Title V permits require facilities to maintain all equipment to ensure proper operation of the equipment. This includes, among other things, the responsibility to prevent significant leaks and make necessary repairs.
South Coast AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, including the Coachella Valley. For news, air quality alerts, event updates and more, please visit us at www.aqmd.gov, download our award-winning app, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.