Porter Ranch Natural Gas Leak May Lead To Thousands of Lawsuits in California
A natural gas leak near Porter Ranch in California has continued unabated for nearly three months, resulting in the evacuation of about 2,500 homes just north of Los Angeles, and a growing number of lawsuits are being filed by area residents.
The methane gas leak was discovered on October 23, at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch, run by the Southern California Gas Company, known as SoCalGas.
While officials say it is too dispersed to ignite, many area residents have reported feeling ill, suffering nosebleeds, and worry about long-term exposure effects of the natural gas leak, which some say may not be stopped for several months.
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More than two dozen individual and class action lawsuits over the Porter Ranch gas leak have been filed, as well as a public nuisance complaint by the city of Los Angeles. The cases are under consideration for mass tort consolidation for pretrial proceedings in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Some attorneys estimate that thousands of lawsuits could ultimately be filed by residents, businesses, and local communities. The company may also face penalties and lawsuits from the federal government as well.
On January 6, SoCalGas issued a statement announcing that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in the Porter Ranch area (PDF) due to the leak.
In addition, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department and the Transportation Department to get involved to ensure public safety and investigate how the leak occurred and whether the proper safety measures were in place.
In a January 13 letter (PDF), the California senators decried SoCalGas’s failed attempts to stop the leak and expressed concern for public safety. They estimate that 80,000 metric tons of methane gas have been released into the air uncontrolled since the leak began.
“Multiple efforts to stop the leak by the Southern California gas Company, which owns the storage facility, have not been successful,” the letter notes. “The company is currently drilling a relief well in an attempt to stop the leak. Under the best case scenario, the relief well is expected to take several more weeks to complete, and the leak continues in the meantime.”
On January 8, in background materials designated for the media (PDF), the company released detailed plans for how it intends to stop the leak with a relief well and a cement plug.
The company says that it expects to stop the leak in late February to late March. In a filing with the SEC, the company said it has spent $50 million on the leak, relocations and other costs associated with the incident, and anticipates significant legal costs as a result of the pending lawsuits.
LindaJanuary 28, 2016 at 11:43 pm
Is there some kind of medical test to see if your illness is being caused by the gas leak or something else. Two of my neighbors and myself all have the same symptons.
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