- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown’s office made no commitments on a permanent closure of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility during a meeting Wednesday with concerned Southern California residents who live near the facility, which has been crippled since a gas leak that started in October and was capped in February.

Many residents who want Aliso Canyon shut down say they’ve experienced health symptoms including headaches, nausea and nosebleeds. Some 8,000 relocated after the gas well blowout, although many have since returned.

About 15 San Fernando Valley residents met with the Democratic governor’s staff Wednesday after holding a rally at the state Capitol.

No conclusion was reached in the meeting, Helen Attai of Granada Hills said, but she thinks Brown’s staff left with a better understanding of residents’ health concerns.

“We’re just hoping they get the idea of how sick and frustrated we are,” Attai said. “Life is not normal. This is not the way it should be.”

She said staff members listened closely to residents and offered examples of research being conducted. Saul Gomez, deputy secretary for energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, and Cliff Rechtschaffen, senior adviser in the governor’s office, sat in on the meeting.

Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the governor, confirmed that the meeting occurred but declined to comment further on the governor’s position regarding the storage facility.

The Aliso Canyon facility - the largest in the Western United States for gas storage - can’t return to normal operations until all 114 remaining wells pass a battery of safety tests or are plugged, a process that is ongoing.

Southern California Gas Co., which operates the Aliso Canyon storage facility, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters of its closure rallied Wednesday, chanting “Stop the lies and stop the leaks, shut it all down is what we seek.” They shared stories of personal experiences with illness related to the facility.

Jane Fowler said she moved to the San Fernando Valley region in 2007 to be healthy, but instead she has experienced memory loss, vomiting and headaches.

Environmental groups say permanently closing the facility provides Brown an opportunity to be a climate leader and take a step toward renewable energy and to move away from a reliance on natural gas.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility has been crippled but not entirely out of operation.

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