Porter Ranch, Aliso Canyon California Gas Leak

In late October 2015, Southern California Gas Co. — SoCalGas — admitted that one of the 8,500-foot-deep underground storage wells in its Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility was leaking natural gas less than five miles from the communities of Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, Northridge, and Granada Hills, California.

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California Mountains

Soon after the leak was made public, residents of the nearby communities reported strong, rotten egg-like odors and began suffering numerous physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, irritated sinuses, and difficulty breathing. The L.A. County Health Department ordered SoCalGas to relocate residents to temporary housing until it could control the leak.

Over the next four months, two schools were moved and thousands of people were placed in temporary housing. The leak was not fixed until early February 2016.

The nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund estimates that the leak emitted the equivalent of 7.5 metric tons of carbon into the air. It is the largest release of greenhouse gases in the history of the United States.

Health Complications from Porter Ranch Gas Leak

Children and adults in the vicinity of the gas leak suffered serious health consequences as a result of the leak. These included:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing and nasal congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nose bleeds
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Skin irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Extraordinary stress

Even though natural gas consists mainly of methane, it can also include varying amounts of other toxic chemicals such as nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene.

Additionally, the natural gas to which residents were exposed had been treated with mercaptans. These are chemical agents that give natural gas a nauseating smell, similar to rotten eggs.

SoCalGas Leak Lawsuit

Underground pipe in California Mountains

In December 2015, Weitz & Luxenberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents impacted by the gas leak against the owner and operator of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility, SoCalGas and Sempra Energy.

Since that time, the firm has filed six additional suits on behalf of over 3,000 injured residents.

The lawsuits allege that SoCalGas and Sempra failed to construct, maintain, and operate their gas storage well in a safe manner, and that both SoCalGas and Sempra purposefully kept residents in the dark about the leak and its effects.

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