Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Aliso Canyon Methane Gas Leak Likely Fault of Utility and Regulators
EDM Monday Briefing: Aliso Canyon Methane Gas Leak Likely Fault of Utility and Regulators

EDM Monday Briefing: Aliso Canyon Methane Gas Leak Likely Fault of Utility and Regulators


Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 20, 2019: Utility safety and regulatory failures likely led to the largest U.S. gas leak disaster at California's Aliso Canyon in 2015; a massive undercover operation led 135 law enforcement agents to arrest 50 suspects in an alleged heroin ring; four Americans are dead following a small plane crash off the coast of Roatán, Honduras; state health officials in Massachusetts have confirmed Hepatitis A in a food service employee at a seafood restaurant in Rockport; Boeing states they have upgraded their software in simulators for the 737-MAX aircraft to improve force load training for pilots; the CDC confirms the salmonella outbreak is linked to backyard poultry flocks; an Oregon high school football coach tackled a student who allegedly threatened a classroom with a gun; and a high risk assessment by the NWS of potentially violent and severe weather outbreak on Monday prompted Oklahoma City area schools to be closed.

1) A recently released report states that utility safety failures and inadequate regulations likely led to the Aliso Canyon methane gas release and fire in 2015, which ultimately displaced 8,000 families affected by the disaster at the Porter Ranch facility. A report released by the California Public Utilities Commission found that the root cause was the failure of SoCalGas to conduct basic inspections at the Porter Ranch facility to ensure the safety of the wells and their casings, which were originally designed to hold oil, not gas, under high pressure. The report indicates that the disaster likely could have been avoided, had regulations been in place that would ensured the gas utility owner investigated previous well failures and adequately assessed the aging wells -- some dating to the 1940s -- for their disaster potential.

2) A massive undercover operation in connection with a suspected heroin ring led to the seizure of thousands of bags of heroin, guns and the arrest of 50 people in Connecticut on Friday. The arrests were conducted by 135 officers, detectives, agents, and investigators across multiple agencies, including local and federal enforcement agencies. The undercover operation, "Operation Raw Deal," began in September and was formed in response to the rising heroin overdoses and heroin-related deaths in the city.

3) A small plane crash off the coast of Honduras killed four Americans and one Canadian when the aircraft plummeted from the sky shortly after take-off. The aircraft, a Piper PA-32-260, known as a Cherokee 6, plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean after its takeoff from Roatán Island, a popular tourist destination located just off the coast of Honduras. The small aircraft was bound for Trujillo -- a city about 49 miles away on the coastal mainland of Honduras -- when it crashed, killing everyone on board.

4) Health officials are warning patrons who dined at a Rockport, Massachusetts seafood restaurant of possible exposure to Hepatitis A. A case of Hepatitis A was confirmed in a food service employee who was working at Roy Moore's Fish Shack between the dates of April 21 and May 12. State health officials are urging anyone who ate cold or uncooked food, or who does not remember what they ate during those dates at the restaurant, to contact their healthcare provider regarding their possible exposure to the disease.

5) Boeing continues to make changes to its software in the wake of two deadly 737-MAX airplane crashes just six months apart, both of which killed everyone on board. The latest update is to the simulator software used to train pilots for the specific aircraft. A Boeing spokesman stated that the software update to the simulator will improve the simulation of force loads on the manual trim wheel, which is used to control the airplane's pitch attitude.

6) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on Thursday that a Salmonella outbreak has been linked to backyard flocks of poultry. The salmonella outbreak has infected 52 people across 21 states, including five individuals who were hospitalized. The majority of victims are children five years of age or younger -- a total of 28 percent of those sickened. Health officials caution anyone who handles live poultry or touches anything in their environment to wash their hands thoroughly in order to avoid contracting salmonella.

7) A student was tackled by a football coach at an Oregon school on Friday after he reportedly appeared in a classroom doorway in a black trench coat, waving a gun, at the Parkrose High School in Portland. The students in the classroom were able to flee through a back door in the room when the alleged shooter threatened them, and the high school football coach was able to tackle the student before any shots were fired. Two students had reported concerning behavior of the alleged 18-year-old suspect, Angel Granados Dias, to staff members on Friday before the incident occurred. Security had allegedly attempted to locate the student, but he had already entered the school.

8) Schools across the Southern Plains were prompted to close after the National Weather Service (NWS) warned of a potentially violent day of weather on Friday that could produce life-threatening conditions, including a tornado outbreak and severe thunderstorms. The "high risk" assessment warning was issued for parts of Northwest Texas into western and central Oklahoma and the severe weather is expected to produce large hail (up to baseball size), damaging winds, and flash flooding, lasting into the overnight hours. The NWS noted that tornadoes could reach EF-4 or EF-5 strength and could be long-track, violent, and potentially deadly. That warning prompted schools throughout the Oklahoma City area to cancel all classes and school-related activities for the day.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.