December 22, 2015 — The first injury lawsuits have been filed by victims of a massive methane gas leak in Porter Ranch, California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Southern California Gas Co. is accused of negligence for failing to immediately warn the public, relocate families, or pay for medical expenses.
One lawsuit was filed by the family of Brian and Christine Katz, including their five children. The lawsuit states that their 2 year-old daughter Ava has experienced the worst symptoms:
“She suffered from some type of seizure and spent four nights in ICU for ‘upper respiratory symptoms’ with no prior health problem. [Ava] is now listless, suffering from persistent rashes, and painful nausea.”
The leak started on October 23 at a natural gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon. It was traced to a pipe casing located about 500 feet below the surface. It took three days before local government officials and residents were warned.
SoCal Gas has failed to plug the well at least six times, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pumping saltwater and gravel into the well was unsuccessful. The company is now drilling a relief well at an angle to intersect the broken well about 8,700 feet underground. Unfortunately, it will take three or four months to get there.
In the meantime, the leak is spewing 50,000 kilograms of gas per hour, according to tests conducted in November by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), making this the largest natural gas leak in California’s history. Residents have reported a number of health problems, including:
- Shortness of breath
- And more
Health officials say most of the gas being released is methane, which is odorless and does not pose health risks. The “rotten egg” odor is due to an additive called mercaptan, which is not toxic but can cause short-term health problems. The gas might also contain carcinogens like benzene or radon, but officials say levels detected so far are too low to cause long-term health problems.
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