Weitz & Luxenberg today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Sempra Energy in response to the gas leak at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility. The leak was announced by the companies on October 24 and has exposed residents of Porter Ranch and surrounding communities to noxious odors, gases, chemicals and numerous other pollutants and contaminants. The suit is filed on behalf of 25 families impacted by the gas leak.
“The nosebleeds, headaches and respiratory issues — not to mention the potential long-term health effects from the inhalation of dangerous chemicals — suffered by residents, and especially children, has caused devastating disruption to the quality of life in these communities,” said Robin Greenwald, head of W&L’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection litigation unit. “This is the first step toward securing the safety and justice the residents of Porter Ranch and their neighbors deserve and holding both SoCalGas and Sempra accountable for their negligence.”
The complaint, filed in the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, alleges SoCalGas and Sempra Energy were grossly negligent both in the construction of the Aliso Canyon facility and in their ongoing attempts to repair the leak. The leak has resulted in the spread of noxious odors and contaminants in homes, schools and businesses.
The complaint challenges the lack of transparency of SoCalGas and Sempra Energy in sharing critically important air data with the community, despite requests from residents for access to data relating to air quality in their communities, and demands that all air monitoring data be disclosed to all residents in real-time and with meaningful information. It is inexcusable for residents to be kept in the dark about the composition of the gas in the air they are breathing, an especially dangerous situation for children, the elderly and residents with pre-existing medical conditions, said Robin Greenwald. The complaint also demands that residents be excused from paying their gas bills during this time.
More Relief for Plaintiffs
W&L is seeking the immediate establishment of a compensation fund for the plaintiffs to pay for expenses incurred as a result of the gas leak as they are incurred. The complaint also demands relocation, immediately, for all residents wishing to relocate and that the companies relocate the schools as well so the children can continue their education with their teachers and friends, but in a safe environment.
The complaint also calls for:
- SoCalGas and Sempra Energy to develop and implement a real-time community warning system to provide residents with critical information about air quality.
- Immediate suspension of the Aliso Canyon Turbine Replacement Project until the leak has been stopped, the cause of the leak has been determined. It also calls for the study and establishment of a risk mitigation plan for gas well failure and the development of an emergency response plan in the event of future leaks.
- The suspension of gas bill payments by affected residents to SoCalGas until the leak is fully stopped.
- The hiring of an independent coordinator to assist residents with relocation, health consultation and other necessary support as a result of the gas leak.
- A provision to relocate schools in Porter Ranch.
Health Problems Experienced by Residents
Residents of Porter Ranch, as well as portions of Chatsworth, Granada Hills and Northridge, have suffered serious health consequences as a result of the leak, including eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing and nasal congestion, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, headaches, nose bleeds, flu-like symptoms, skin irritation, fatigue and extraordinary stress.
For a free consultation about how the Porter Ranch gas leak is affecting you and your family, call 800-476-6070, or complete the online form.
Read the legal complaint filed by W&L.