Frustrated Residents Rally Over Gas Leak, Health Concerns

Residents planned to address their concerns with the LA County Board of Supervisors.

Porter Ranch residents were ready to take their concerns about a month-long gas leak that they say has been making them sick to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

"They try telling us it doesn't affect our health!" said Sharon Estrada, a Porter Ranch resident. "But yet we're breathing it. We got a phone call one day that said 'stay inside.' Why?"

Residents gathered Monday at the corner of Tampa Avenue and Rinaldi Street to protest the ongoing leak, shouting:

"I don't know but I been told, SoCalGas has got to go!"

Residents insisted their health was threatened by the gas leak and some were said they were willing to move because of the issue.

A faulty natural gas storage well at a Southern California Gas Company facility in Aliso Canyon has been plaguing the Porter Ranch community. Some residents said they experienced headaches, nosebleeds and nausea as a result of the leak.

"Even people that are in Topanga and Chatsworth say they also smell it!" Annie Machado, a Porter Ranch resident, said.

When residents were instructed to stay indoors the previous Friday, an "oily mist" was emitted into the air.

A SoCal Gas representative said the mist never actually left the grounds, and the warnings were just a cautionary measure.

LA County Health officials told the company to offer residents free temporary relocation options the Friday before the protest.

The leak was discovered Oct. 23, and reported five days later.

SoCal Gas has told the residents that the leak poses no threat because it is outdoors and over a mile away from homes or public areas.

"We live in a very nice house - I don't want to move out," Sue Holl, a Porter Ranch, resident at the rally, said. "But I don't know about the long term health risks for my children."

LA County Public Health ordered SoCal Gas to expedite repairs.

"We have two kids. They might have to move schools. It's really disappointing," Holl said.

The California's Air Resources Board estimated the Aliso Canyon leak accounts for a quarter of all methane emitted statewide.

The residents of Porter Ranch said that their quality of life is at stake.

"This is a big problem, and it's causing problems in our neighborhood," Brenda Richards, a Porter Ranch resident, said. "Let's get this fixed - do it now."

On Friday, Los Angeles City Council members demanded answers about the leak. Councilman Mitch Englander requested that Southern California Gas Company officials should appear before a panel to answer questions. A date had not yet been set.

The rally comes ahead of Tuesday's meeting with the Board of Supervisor over the issue with Mayor Michael D. Antonovich.

The Departments of Public Health, Fire, Public Works, Regional Planning and the Air Quality Management District were to attend the meeting, and report on the ongoing gas leak.

"Natural Gas has been leaking in the Porter Ranch area for over a month and residents continue to be subjected to powerful fumes that have the potential to cause short-term neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues," Antonovich said.

Any resident who needed to utilize temporary accommodations, including meals and mileage reimbursement, should visit the gas company's website.

SoCal Gas was also providing updates on its site.

Annette Arreola and Corey Arvin contributed to this report.

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