The residents of Porter Ranch, Calif., experienced firsthand the “worst gas leak in U.S. history” earlier this year when Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas)’s Aliso Canyon operation began leaking volumes of methane gas starting October 2015 and continuing until February of 2016.
The gas rupture forced at least 8,000 residents from their homes for months. After finally returning home, residents complained of headaches, nosebleeds and nausea from the gas fumes.
The company was going through the process of reopening the facility when a new gas leak was reported this weekend. Porter Ranch residents are now pleading to have the facility permanently shut down.
“We heard reports of residents smelling it on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and they didn’t cap it until Monday night,” said Alexandra Nagy, with the Los Angeles Food and Water Watch. “So that’s four days of people going through these symptoms without really any understanding of what’s going on.”
As of last Tuesday, SoCal Gas and Los Angeles County reached a $4 million settlement in a criminal case over the gas leak.
“SoCal Gas themselves demonstrated why this unneeded facility must be permanently shut down and their guilt will be further proven as civil litigation proceeds,” said Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, a group of media subject matter experts and community leaders. “And we are concerned about what happens with the leak-detection system after three years. Residents of the area will still need to breathe in three years.”
Although the company released a statement assuring the community that “benzene and other compounds” were tested for and found to be “below levels of concern,” residents are still worried about the potential threats of prolonged exposure to methane and benzene fumes.
Air samples taken during the gas leak crisis showed an excess of benzene, which has been known to cause anemia and blood cancers. It has been linked to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), and lymphomas.