Aliso Canyon Gas Leak
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Apr 22, 2016
Last October, an underground storage facility near Porter Ranch began leaking substantial amounts of methane gas. Many nearby residents became ill, and thousands were forced to relocate. While officials from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health have reassured residents that the air quality does not pose long-term health risks and that it will begin stepping up procedures for air quality monitoring, many remain skeptical and have yet to return to their homes. Of the more than 2,000 families who were forced to relocate, a significant number are considering permanent relocation.
Located about a mile from the Porter Ranch community in Aliso Canyon, the natural gas storage facility owned by SoCal Gas covers approximately 3,600 acres. Last October, as crews attempted to inject around 5.7 billion cubic feet of gas into one of its underground facilities, one of the injection wells failed, causing a blowout and a subsequent gas leak. The leak was finally plugged, but not before approximately 1,2000 tons of methane, methyl mercaptan, and aromatic hydrocarbons were emitted into the air for almost four months.
The methane leak has affected the health of hundreds of residents, who report that the mercaptans, which are added to the methane and have a distinctive sulfur-like smell in order to alert people of leaks, have caused numerous cases of nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, vomiting, and respiratory problems. While the long-term effects of methane gas remaining underground are still unknown, the impact on local air and water quality is not. The leak can cause significant pollution over time.
Gas Leaks and Personal Injury
Large scale gas leaks like that experienced at Aliso Canyon are not extremely common. However, smaller gas leaks in homes and businesses are much more likely to occur. While anyone can suffer health-related problems due to exposure to harmful gases, children, the elderly, and those with preexisting medical problems are particularly at risk. Gas leaks can also cause explosions, which can result in severe injuries, death, and significant property damage.
Many gas leaks are caused by negligent equipment designs or faulty manufacturing. If tanks, valves, and pipes are not properly installed, leaks are also much more likely to occur. A company’s failure to inspect and maintain gas facilities is another potential cause of dangerous leaks. Gas companies, distributors, and manufacturers can all be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligence, and must compensate victims for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with injuries suffered due to exposure from natural gases. Additionally, residents like those in Porter Ranch, whose properties have dropped approximately 25 percent in value since the leak, may also be able to recover for the damage to their property’s value.
Call an Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury as a result of a gas leak, an attorney may be able to help you receive compensation for your losses by bringing a lawsuit against the responsible party. Please contact a dedicated and experienced attorney at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., for a free initial consultation.