# Households Relocated out of California Gas Co’s Toxic Leak Zone:
December 2: 1400
(600 asking to relocate)
December 1: 800
(300 + 500 more in process)
November 30: 300
November 27: 170
November 23: 30
What about the undisclosed frac chemicals in this leaking stored natural gas? Are any health “authorities” demanding the list of all chemicals used to frac the gas stored in this facility?
Health officials: Porter Ranch gas leak may cause long-term health effects by Sarah Favot, December 2, 2015, Los Angeles Daily News
[WHAT TOOK HEALTH AUTHORITIES SO LONG TO TELL HARMED FAMILIES THE TRUTH? MERCAPTAN IS A KNOWN POISON. AND WHY DID THE COMPANY LIE ON ITS WEBSITE ABOUT THE HEALTH HARMS?]
County public health officials said prolonged exposure to trace chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens, in natural gas leaking above Porter Ranch can cause long-term health effects.
However, they cautioned Wednesday that the levels examined so far in Porter Ranch are not believed to be associated with long-term health problems.
Previously, county health officials said the gas leak did not pose any long-term health risks, but because the leak is now entering its sixth week and gas company officials say it may take four months to plug the leak, officials said more monitoring is needed.
“As the duration of exposure increases, these trace levels can produce significant long-term health effects,” county Department of Public Health Interim Director Cynthia Harding wrote in a memo sent Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors. “As this incident has moved from a short-term exposure event resolved within days [DAYS? IT’S BEEN OVER A MONTH], to now a long-term event potentially lasting months, supplemental monitoring of potentially harmful trace chemicals is warranted.” [ 40 DAYS LATE]
The memo was sent in response to a question from Supervisor Michael Antonovich about the health impacts of the gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in the Santa Susana Mountains. Antonovich’s office provided a copy of the memo to this news organization Wednesday.
“The department’s report is clear and its findings demand a heightened sense of urgency to resolve this problem, which is severely impacting our communities for the last 41 days,” Antonovich said in a statement.
Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of toxicity for the Division of Environmental Health, said the levels of chemicals examined so far are not believed to result in long-term health risks.
“We still don’t believe anyone is going to get any long-term health effects based on what we know,” [Can Dr. Rangan not read?] Rangan said in an interview. But more monitoring is required, he said.
The chemical of greatest concern is benzene, a known human carcinogen.
“I wouldn’t be alarmed at the benzene levels at this point,” [Does he live in the toxic fumes?] Rangan said. “It’s cause for doing more monitoring. It’s not cause for saying, ‘I gotta get out of here.’ ” [Does Dr. Rangan sound like AER’s Dr. Monique Dubé and Bob Curran to you?]
Radon gas, which may potentially be released during repair operations, is also a concern.
Radon, which naturally occurs in geologic formations, is also a human carcinogen and the leading cause of lung cancers in nonsmokers, Harding said.
Rangan said sporadic exposure to benzene occurs each time people fill their car with gasoline. Sporadic exposure doesn’t pose long-term health risks.
He said tests so far have shown that the levels of benzene in the air are within the range expected in the Southern California basin due to exhaust from vehicles. If tests show a trend of elevated levels of the chemical over several weeks, that would be cause for concern, he said.
“We’re not even close to that, which is good,” Rangan said.
Other trace chemicals in natural gas include: hydrogen sulfide [kills, quickly; breathing trace amounts damages the brain, permanently], sulfur dioxide, toluene [known neurotoxin, damages brain, notably in children], ethyl benzene and xylenes.
The Department of Public Health is working with regulatory agencies to assess exposures to these chemicals.
Public health officials will expand monitoring to include these chemicals at the storage facility and in the Porter Ranch community.
The short-term health effects of exposure to mercaptan — an additive that smells like rotten eggs and which is added to odorless natural gas to detect leaks — has caused hundreds of residents to leave their homes. The Department of Public Health ordered SoCal Gas to pay for residents’ relocation. Nearly 300 families have left and about 1,100 households have made inquiries about leaving.
On Tuesday, the supervisors sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, asking him to use his executive authority to have the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources take immediate action to find a solution to the gas leak. [Emphasis added]
Natural Gas Leak from Well Won’t Be Stopped Before Holidays by Patrick Healy, December 1, 2015
The president of Southern California Gas Co. apologized to Porter Ranch residents for a gas leak discovered more than a month ago that has yet to be contained, but said the company is working on drilling a relief well that will allow them to permanently cap the leaking tank.
It will be well past the holidays and into the new year before it will be possible to stop and seal the massive gas leak that has been exposing Porter Ranch to noxious fumes, officials of SoCalGas Company disclosed Tuesday.
Testifying before the Los Angeles City Council, SoCalGas CEO Dennis Arriola outlined a strategy that will require drilling a second “relief” well nearly two miles long to intercept the leaking well near the bottom of its 8,500 foot depth. The process could take three to four months, Arriola said. Less time consuming techniques for stopping well leaks have already been tried without success, he said.
Also testifying at the hearing were residents criticizing the Gas Company for the leak’s impact on their community. Speakers described the noxious odor as causing headaches and nausea. One mother said her 11-year-old son has suffered nosebleeds.
So far, the Gas Company has helped relocate more than 280 households, and another 500 are in process, said Gillian Wright, VP of Customer relations.
Just as Wright had done a week ago at an earlier hearing before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Arriola apologized to the community on behalf of the company.
“No one should have to go through these disruptions and experiences,” Arriola said.
Some residents and elected officials chose stronger words to describe the leak’s impact.
“It’s not a quality of life issue or discomfort,” said City Councilman Mitch Englander at a post hearing news conference, as Arriola stood next to him. “It’s a matter of public safety, it’s a matter of public health, and has to be treated as such.” Englander also used the word “catastrophe.”
The main component of natural gas, methane, is odorless, and so another chemical with a distinctly unpleasant smell, mercaptan, is added as an indicator. The mercaptan is what causes the symptoms, said Cyrus Rangan, MD, with the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
Yet to be resolved is a gas company proposal to add another chemical to neutralize the mercaptan. It is expected to be discussed Wednesday evening at a meeting of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council.
The Aliso Canyon Facility stores gas in porous sandstone that decades ago held a natural supply of oil until it was pumped out. The gas is accessed with some 100 wells.
Using the other wells to draw off natural gas and reduce pressure in the system should reduce the rate of gas escaping, and thereby reduce the odor, said Arriola, who was joined by Jimmie Cho, the company’s VP for gas operations and system integrity.
Gas company officials said they still do not know for certain what triggered the leak, but have been able to narrow down its location to a section of the well 500 feet below ground level.
Leaks can often be stopped by flooding the well with brine or another fluid. But that was not effective in this case, said Steve Bohlen, head of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), for reasons that required a brief science lesson to explain.
Bohlen described to County Supervisors how natural gas in storage is kept pressurized. The leak allows the gas to expand rapidly, and as it does, it cools. In the case of the Aliso Canyon well, it appears the excaping methane cools enough to freeze in the pipe above the leak, thereby shielding the leak from the flooding fluid intended to seal it off.
Pressed by Supervisor Mike Antonovich as to whether DOGGR should take charge of the mission to stop the leak, Bohlen said that its role is regulatory, and that the responsibility belongs to the plant operator. Well experts from Louisiana and Texas have been brought in to provide expertise, SoCalGas said.
Citing the uncertainty over the cause of the leak, and the inability to halt it quickly, some community voices are calling for the entire Aliso Canyon storage facility to be closed.
“Shut it down,” chanted a group of demonstrators outside Los Angeles City Hall.
SoCalGas emphasized it will seal off and “kill” the leaking well, but resisted the notion of closing the entire facility, citing its importance to the natural gas infrastructure for Southern California, and pledging to investigate the cause of the leak to prevent a recurrence.
Asked if such a facility should be located farther from communities, Arriola said natural porous sandstone formations are not portable like manmade pipelines. “We can’t just pick it up and move it somewhere else,” said Arriola. [Emphasis added]
Utility steps up efforts to plug massive California methane leak by Diana Crandall with additional reporting by Steve Gorman, December 1, 2015, Reuters
The head of Southern California Gas Co said it would take at least three more months to plug a massive underground leak of natural gas that has been seeping into the air since mid-October and now accounts for a quarter of the state’s entire methane emissions.
The utility’s president and chief executive officer, Dennis Arriola, also said on Tuesday the company would begin this week drilling a relief well designed to intersect the damaged pipeline hundreds of feet beneath the surface and inject it with fluids [what chemicals?] and cement.
The utility’s latest strategy and time frame for addressing the stench of gas fumes that have sickened nearby residents for weeks and led to the temporary relocation of 200 families was laid out during a Los Angles City Council hearing.
SoCal Gas, one of the biggest gas utilities in the nation, is owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy. Its leaking storage field at Aliso Canyon, just outside the northern Los Angeles community of Porter Ranch, is the second largest such facility in the Western United States by capacity, after a field in Montana.
The company pumps gas into storage wells some 8,500 feet below the site during the summer and draws on those supplies to meet higher energy demand in the winter.
The leak, detected on Oct. 23, is believed to have been caused by a broken injection-well pipe several hundred feet beneath the surface of the 3,600-acre field.
Vast amounts of methane, the principal component of natural gas and a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, have been seeping through the soil to the surface since then, despite several failed attempts by the company to halt the flow.
… The state Air Resources Board has estimated that methane is escaping into the environment at the rate of 50,000 kilograms per hour, representing roughly one fourth of all methane emissions throughout California.
To date, the gas field has belched the equivalent of 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, about the same emissions from driving 160,000 cars for a year, according to the agency.
Arriola said it could take three to four months more to halt the flow but that once the leak is sealed off the crippled well will be permanently abandoned. Residents living about a mile from Aliso Canyon want the gas field shut down altogether.
The South Coast Air Quality District said it has received nearly 1,000 complaints about the persistent rotten-egg smell of mercaptan, a chemical added to the normally odorless gas to help detect leaks. Many also have reported suffering from nausea, nose bleeds, headaches, breathing difficulties and other ill effects.
In addition to households the company has already paid to temporarily relocate, 500 more families are waiting to be moved, said Stephanie Saporito, spokeswoman for City Councilman Mitchell Englander, whose district includes Porter Ranch.
The utility insists that the leak, while a major public nuisance, poses no immediate public safety threat because the gas dissipates outdoors. But county health officials said long-term health effects from exposure to the gas remain unknown.
Environmentalists have seized on the leak as evidence of an aging fossil fuel energy infrastructure that has led to thousands of smaller gas leaks throughout the system that have gone largely unaddressed. [Emphasis added]
Repairing Porter Ranch leaking gas well may take 4 months by Gregory J. Wilcox, November 30, 2015, Los Angeles Daily News
It could take up to four months to plug a leaking gas well above Porter Ranch, marking the most concrete prediction since the problem arose more than a month ago, Southern California Gas Co. officials said Monday.
With the work ongoing, the number of relocated families because of the gas’ rotten egg odor has swelled to nearly 300.
The company started erecting a relief derrick two weeks ago about a quarter-mile east of the leaking well near the top of Oat Mountain, said gas company CEO Dennis Arriola.
“As of today the relief well is on the site and the drilling rig is prepared to start drilling as early as Thursday,” Arriola said.
Work crews are now in the process of testing the equipment to make sure that is in good working order and safe.
The well began leaking on Oct. 23. The company has tried several methods of stopping it but so far has been unsuccessful, he said.
Some residents of Porter Ranch have reported falling ill from the smell associated with mercaptan, the material that gives natural gas its distinctive odor.
Los Angeles County health officials last month ordered the company to offer paid relocation assistance to residents who could not stay in their home because of the smell.
By late last week 132 families had relocated, but by Monday the number had swelled to 282, the company said.
The company is continuing to process requests and find suitable lodging given the time it is taking to stop the leak, officials said.
The new well is about 800 feet below the leaking one and workers will have to drill down about 8,000 feet and intercept the broken 2 7/8-inch gas pipe.
“It will take three to four months to drill down and get there,” said Jimmie Cho, the company’s senior vice president of operations and system integrity.
Meanwhile, the company plans to continue attempts to kill the well at the surface.
And it is extracting natural gas from the breach near the storage chamber with the leaking pipe and distributing it to its customers in the hopes of reducing the pressure and the smell that sometimes floats over the community.
The company today will conduct laboratory tests at one of its facilities on a compound that when combined with natural gas breaks down the mercaptan. Health and air-quality officials have been invited to attend that test.
‘DROPPED THE BALL’
The company has also been ordered to appear today before the Los Angeles City Council to address questions about the leak and the company’s response to community concerns.
The latter is a major concern, said Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents the area. Englander was at the relief well site on Monday.
“What they are doing from a technical standpoint is pretty impressive. What they did in the community is dropped the ball and failed miserably,” Englander said.
The company has not been as forthcoming as it should have in sharing information with the community, he said.
“It appears that they are making up a plan as they go along. From the community and stakeholder perspective it doesn’t appear they had any credible plan to share this information,” Englander said. “Their crisis communication plan … if they had one at all, has failed miserably,”
The company did put a link to information about the leak on its web site and posted updates on the repair process and air quality.
Arriola said Monday that the company plans to “enhance” its outreach by opening a community resource center in Porter Ranch and working on ways to get air purifiers for two schools that are the closest to its massive storage facility in the Santa Susana Mountains.
Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, is not happy about the timeline for repairs.
“This keeps getting longer. We have a big legal action ready to go. That will probably happen later in the week,” he said. [Emphasis added]
More Families Flee Porter Ranch Homes Over Potentially Noxious Gas Leak
by CBS LA, November 27, 2015
PORTER RANCH (CBSLA.com) — The number of families leaving Porter Ranch following a gas leak — that residents say could be making them sick — continues to rise.
Residents have complained about the air quality for about a month.
KCAL9’s Tom Wait on Friday spoke to some families who have been relocated to hotels while the gas company tries to stop the leak.
George and Susan Chang are doing the familiar post-Thanksgiving ritual — heating up delicious leftovers.
But the ritual is different this year because the Changs are in a hotel room. They essentially evacuated their home in Porter Ranch blaming the gas leak.
“I would never have imagined that we would have to move out because the quality of the air was so toxic and poisoned,” said Susan Gorman-Chang.
“You wouldn’t have believed it. I never would have thought such a thing would have happened, but here we are,” said George.
The Changs are like thousands of Porter Ranch residents who live close to the Aliso Canyon natural gas well.
Back on October 23, a leak was discovered underground. Since that time, a massive amount of methane has spewed from the broken pipe casing. Along with it, chemicals inside the natural gas that allows us to smell it — the same chemicals the LA county health department says can cause short-term headaches, breathing issues and nausea.
Health officials last week issued a directive to the gas company to pay for families to relocate. So far, Wait reports, more than 170 families have taken the offer.
“That stuff is in my carpets. It’s in the furniture. It’s in the house getting recirculated,” says resident Matt Pakucko. He also moved out of his home. He’s with the group Save Porter Ranch — a watchdog organization that says the well is too dangerous to be near homes.
“It’s over for that place. We need to shut it down,” Pakucko said.
The Gas company says they do not have a timeline for when the well will be fixed and the lack of knowing is a massive disruption to many households.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do for Christmas, so yeah, just a lot of unknowns,” said Susan.
Wait also spoke with several other families off camera who also told him they have moved out of their homes — none of them know when they will go back. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Public and Corporate Health Fraud? Where’s the regulator? Huge natural gas leak in California has impact of burning 300 million gallons of gasoline, is sickening residents, could take months to fix, class action lawsuit filed
Baytex Finally Successful, Gags & Settles Poisoned Alberta Families: Does a lawyer-touted “positive outcome” of displacing and gagging poisoned families, stop the poisoning? “Our house is contaminated…there’s a smell now…Part of the torture of all this is not only abandoning our farm, but the health experts…told us we shouldn’t bring anything (with us).” ]