Natural Gas Leak Threatens Porter Ranch, CA

Attention Porter Ranch, CA residents and property owners – Natural gas continues to spew from a ruptured SoCalGas well, forcing thousands of residents to relocate and triggering a state of emergency in California.

One of the largest environmental disasters in United States history is happening right now in California. Harmful methane gas is leaking from an energy facility owned by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in Aliso Canyon at a rate of 110,000 pounds per hour.  The facility’s well has been leaking since October 23, 2015, resulting in the release of over 150 million pounds of methane all over the San Fernando Valley (an equivalent pollution of 4.5 million cars each day).

Over 1,000 residents have already been evacuated from their homes and the Federal Aviation Administration has declared the area a no fly zone. A horrible smell has also taken over the area.  Because Methane is an odorless gas, the chemical mercaptan is added to create a foul smell to help identify the gas in case of leaks. Methane is also extremely flammable creating a high risk of a possible catastrophic explosion. Precautions have been taken to decrease the likelihood of a fire including banning cellphones and watches near the facility.

The leak has already increased California’s statewide methane emissions by about 25%, and has been called the worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill in 2010. The cause of the leak is still unknown but research has shown that 38% of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old, and 16% are made from corrosion and leak prone materials.

State regulators ordered the Southern California Gas Company to deliver a plan to fix the leak and capture as much gas as possible in December, but a successful plan has not yet been confirmed. California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in the area as over 84 days have gone by without a solution to stop the leak.

Now the Southern California Gas Company is looking to drill a relief well to plug the leak, a difficult process that could take at least three to four months to complete. The leaking pipe is located thousands of feet below the ground, and methane’s highly flammable nature prevents workers from using any tools that could create sparks. At this time, it is unclear whether the Southern California Gas Company’s efforts will be successful in containing this leak.

Residents in the area are reporting nausea, dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath, upper respiratory problems and headaches related to the harmful gas leak. If you are a resident or property owner in the San Fernando or Porter Ranch valley you may be able to recover damages for your exposure to this dangerous natural gas. Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is ready to help those residents who pursue personal injury and property claims related to the Southern California Gas Company Methane leak. Give Napoli Shkolnik a call today at 212-397-1000 to discuss your legal options.