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Porter Ranch SoCal Gas Leak Declared State of Emergency

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Los Angeles, CAA state of emergency has been declared over the massive Porter Ranch SoCal gas leak in California that has been sending methane into the Porter Ranch neighborhood for over two months. On January 6th, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, issued a statement declaring the state of emergency which will “direct further action to protect public health and safety, ensure accountability and strengthen oversight of gas storage facilities.”

Environmental and residential groups have been seeking such a declaration for weeks. Currently, SoCal (Southern California Gas Co.), a unit of Sempra Energy, is paying for work associated with trying to stop the leak, and to relocate thousands of residents who are experiencing health problems as a result of the leak. According to health officials, health problems including headaches, nosebleeds and nausea are believed to be caused by an odorant added to the gas. Those officials have said they don't believe there are long term effects from exposure.

According to SoCal Gas officials, work is ongoing to plug an underground well that is spewing gas from a large underground reservoir. However, SoCal Gas officials have said the leak may not be plugged until the end of March.

This colossal leak, first discovered on or about October 23, 2015, is believed to have started sometime in September, when SoCal Gas injected gas underground near the residents of Porter Ranch. According to the lawsuit, 5.7 billion cubic feet of gas was injected and with similar amounts again in October, which is when one of the injection wells suffered a massive well failure and blowout, and resulted in gas from SoCal Gas leaking into the air and the water table. According to the class action filed against SoCal over the leak, that “gas is not from the region, but instead the gas is injected underground by Defendant Southern California Gas Company into illegally permitted wells.”

The leak has caused a continuous flow of gases and fluids. Methane alone is leaking 100,000 pounds per hour, according to Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer. Along with that greenhouse gas is methyl mercaptans (odorants added to gas to aid in leak detection) and aromatic hydrocarbons. More concernedly, health officials have identified benzene and radon, both known carcinogens. Benzene is known to cause cancer.

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