On October 2015, the livelihood of Porter Ranch residents was interrupted
as a So. Cal. Gas Co. Injection well suffered a massive failure and blowout
leading to a gas leak. The gas, which is escaping at an astounding rate
of 50,000 kilograms per hour, accounts for upwards of 25% of all methane
released in California. According to the LA Times, tests have found that
hydrogen sulfide levels in the air following the leak were at 183 parts
per billion – six times greater than the state allows for chemicals
that can be poisonous.
The leak has affected the air and water in the surrounding region forcing
a number of residents to relocate with some residents being forced to
wait more than 30 days before being relocated. Many have reported physical
problems including neurological, gastrointestinal, and respiratory ailments
as a result of gas exposure. These include dizziness, light-headedness,
nausea, vomiting, headaches, and nosebleeds. Furthermore, residents have
reported experiencing tremendous stress and emotional exhaustion as a
result of the situation as a whole.
Because natural gas is odorless, So. Cal. Gas adds a chemical compound
generally called mercaptans prior to distribution. This compound allows
for leaks to be detected as it produces a foul smell. However, this also
makes the odor produced by the leak unbearable to residents in the surrounding area.
So. Cal. Gas has made a number of attempts to abate the leaking of fluids
and gas; however, they have all failed. The total impact of the gas leak
on the community with respect to the transfer of this gas through the
underground water has not yet been quantified. Additionally, the company
has not explained who is assisting in preventing contamination to the
water impacted by the massive well failure. The company states that it
expects to stop the leak by late February.
Silldorf Law, LLP is in the process of filing a Lawsuit alleging that Southern
California Gas Co. failed to follow the law in protecting the community
of San Fernando Valley. The firm’s clients claim that gas was injected
into illegally permitted wells and that the effects of the leak have led
to physical and emotional trauma for residents of areas affected.