For the first time in months, residents of the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles have begun returning home. This comes after Southern California Gas Company and state regulators confirmed that the largest natural gas leak in our country's history has now been "permanently" capped.
The leak of toxic gas from a well at the Aliso Canyon storage facility continued for four months after it was first detected. News of the leak resulted in the evacuation of thousands of Porter Ranch homeowners last year.
Residents Express Skepticism About the Area's Safety
Some residents expressed relief that they and their families could finally come back home. However, many still have concerns about the harm that the gas could have already done to their health and the possible toxicity that could remain.
Homeowners have also expressed concern about the potential for more leaks from over a hundred other nearby wells. Officials of SoCalGas have said that the utility would inspect all of the wells.
Homeowners Entitled to Air Quality Testing
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has determined that Porter Ranch residents are entitled to have the air quality of the interior of their homes tested as part of the abatement order. U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, who testified before the district's hearing board, noted, "People shouldn't have to move back until we do a sampling of tests."
With a significant gas leak like this one, the impact on people's health may not be apparent for years. No doubt, the attorneys who are involved in the litigation against SoCalGas and other entities will take the potential for future medical care into account as they determine the amount of compensation that they seek for Porter Ranch residents.
Financial losses, such as a drop in property values, will likely be factored in as well. The potential for continued toxicity of the air as well as the water and soil is also a concern that one resident expressed in an interview with the local media. The saga for these families may be far from over.
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