Porter Ranch Gas Leak Hearing Brings Shouts, Demands, But Few Answers

Angry residents demanded results at a hearing to discuss the Porter Ranch natural gas leak, but few answers were forthcoming. Instead, the residents were met with more delays.

As the Los Angeles Daily News reports, the Porter Ranch gas leak, in Aliso Canyon near Los Angeles, is an ongoing environmental disaster that has already displaced 12,000 residents from their homes, and continues to sicken thousands more. The leak was discovered on October 23, and since that time has pumped up to 50,000 kilograms (about 110,000 pounds) of natural gas per hour into the air around the wealthy L.A. suburb. As of this writing, the gas leak has pumped over 150 million pounds of natural gas into the air.

The Porter Ranch gas leak has displaced thousands of people from their homes. Twelve thousand residents, and two elementary schools, have already been moved away from the leak, at a cost of $50 million to the company. However, displaced residents, and those who haven’t been paid to move, are still suffering effects from the gas leak.

Resident Paul Terterian says his entire family — including his pet — have been sickened by the stench of the natural gas (natural gas is naturally odorless and colorless; utilities artificially add a powerful smell so users can smell it in case of a gas leak).

“My wife has been sick. I took my dog to the emergency room. My dog has been put on oxygen. There’s something going on. Shut it down. Give us fresh air. We want to go home.”

Even pets and livestock are suffering horribly, according to the L.A. Times. Amy Masliah believes her 7-year-old dog, Bonnie, died an agonizing death after developing a tumor in her lungs, which Amy believes was caused by the methane, odorants, and benzene released into the atmosphere from the leak.

“She died a very horrible, painful death. She couldn’t breathe. We had to put her to sleep.”

Daysi Ibanez was relocated from her home into a property that didn’t allow pets, forcing her to put her beloved Yorkie, Chase, into a pet hotel. There, the poor animal missed his family and began to suffer emotionally and physically.

“We were afraid he was going to die from sadness. I can’t even imagine if he died. I feel like heads would roll.”

For all their suffering, displaced residents can’t expect relief any time soon. At a hearing on Saturday, residents demanded that either the gas utility remove the odorant from the gas supply, or shut down the Aliso Canyon gas field entirely.

Porter Ranch gas leak hearing.
Residents demand answers a the Porter Ranch gas leak hearing. [Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]
Neither of those things is going to happen any time soon, says Edward Camarena, chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District Hearing Board.

“I regret this tremendously. (But) I believe a thoughtful decision requires a careful deliberation of evidence.”

Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, is fed up with yet another postponement.

“The air district doesn’t need to stall any longer because it has all the information it needs to make the right decision right now: Shut down the Aliso facility once and for all. It’s clear that dirty fuels and people don’t mix, and oil and gas sites don’t belong where people live.”

Southern California Gas Co. attorneys, who are contending with 25 pending lawsuits related to the leak, are refusing to answer questions about closing the gas field, nor are they presenting any possible timeline for remedy.

Officials with Southern California Gas Co., which owns the leaking well at Porter Ranch, have said that they don’t expect the gas leak to be fixed until late February or early March, at the earliest.

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]

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