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Porter Ranch Attorney Dispels Rumors and Dispenses Facts

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Porter Ranch, CASince one of 115 natural gas wells owned by SoCal Gas in Aliso Canyon began leaking methane gas on October 23, there have been conflicting reports and rumors, from public safety and health issues to environmental damage. Public officials, spokespersons from the gas company, Porter Ranch residents and their lawyers more often than not have disagreed on key issues. Attorney Patricia Oliver of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm has been closely monitoring Porter Ranch, and she has filed environmental lawsuits on behalf of many residents.

LawyersandSettlements (LAS): Is it safe for Porter Ranch residents to return home soon after the well is supposed to be fixed this month?

Attorney Patricia Oliver (PO): I have asked the city attorney to investigate how far the methane is moving underground, and then we will be in a position to advise the community whether or not it is safe to return.

LAS: What is the major safety issue, if any, once the well is repaired?

PO: I have heard concerns that underground methane leaks will affect the groundwater and I have asked for an investigation because of this concern.

LAS: Do you believe that SoCal is close to stopping the gas leak?

PO: As of now, the word is about two or three weeks away. But yesterday [February 8], there was a spike in benzene and methane levels reported. This spike happened on the day that SoCal tried to intercept the well, so this is not the success they hoped for.

LAS: Do your clients want to move back to their homes now or wait for your green light?

PO: Every one of our clients wants checks in place. For example, we sent a letter to both the city attorney and SoCal asking for evidence about migration of the plume above and below ground. The latter has not been addressed at all, meaning there is a potential for the gas to migrate underground and up into other areas.

Of course this can be real or hypothetical. But it could be real because the houses at Porter Ranch have been built in “methane buffer zones,” meaning that parts of the city are built on old oil wells, and city ordinance in 2004 described those zones as such, not that methane is an issue now...

LAS: What about health issues - are nosebleeds a symptom of toxic air?

PO: From a health perspective we still have a lot of unknowns and as we develop the case, we will have answers to those questions regarding health concerns. We revealed back in December that the sulphur dioxide in the leak, which has not been mentioned by media, is causing nosebleeds.

Attorney Patricia Oliver at the R. Rex Parris Law Firm specializes in cases involving water contamination from oil production and waste injection wells. The firm has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Porter Ranch residents.

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