Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich will ask his colleagues next week to proclaim a local state of emergency in response to the ongoing natural gas leak that has generated anger among Porter Ranch residents, some of whom have temporarily relocated from the area.

“This action will ask for state and federal assistance to provide for our residents in the Porter Ranch area with additional air monitoring and help with efforts to cap the well,” Antonovich said. “This is a serious problem that has severely impacted our communities for the last 48 days.”

The Board of Supervisors will formally consider the request on Tuesday.

County health officials have said they have received reports of residents suffering from nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea and headaches linked to the leak and have ordered Southern California Gas Co. to offer free, temporary relocation to residents in the area.

No evacuation order for the area has been issued. But so far, 700 families have voluntarily left the area, and another 1,000 are applying for relocation services, officials said.

Gas Co. officials said they are in the process of drilling a relief well that will ultimately allow them to cap the leak, but the process is expected to take several more weeks. The company has been hit with at least two lawsuits, including one filed by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.

The Gas Co. officials have said its “highest priority is to safely stop the leak as quickly as safety will allow.”

It is also important for the utility to help “affected customers” and “reduce the amount of natural gas emitting into the environment during this unfortunate situation,” according to a statement issued by the company this week.

The company disputed characterizations that it dallied in informing authorities of the leak, saying the utility “immediately took steps to address the leak and inform the appropriate regulatory agencies” and communicated on a daily basis with state and local officials “from the outset.”

The company added there is no way to “accurately measure the amount of natural gas being lost from the leak” until after it has been stopped and a “fact-based measurement” can be done.

—City News Service

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