AQMD Again Investigating Reports of Gas Smell in Porter Ranch, 2 Months After Leak Is Capped

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The Southern California Gas Co.'s leaking well forced thousands of residents in and near Porter Ranch to temporarily relocate. (Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Nearly two months after a leaking gas well was finally capped above Porter Ranch, residents on Wednesday reported again smelling the telltale scent of natural gas wafting through their neighborhood, prompting an investigation from air regulators.

Complaints were being made by residents to KTLA and in a private Facebook group.

“Awful smell at Tampa and Sesnon,” one member of the “Porter Ranch Gas Leak” group wrote.

“Horrible gas smell hit me in the face when I came out of my car by Earl’s donuts,” wrote another, referring to a shop in Chatsworth.

The Southern California Gas Co. told KTLA it was investigating the situation. Later in the afternoon, the company tweeted that despite reports about odors, there was “no indication of any gas leak” at the massive underground natural gas storage facility at Aliso Canyon.

There is “no potential source for odors” from the facility, an investigation had shown, the company stated.

The Aliso Canyon gas storage facility drew scrutiny when a four-month leak forced residents in nearby Porter Ranch from their homes. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The Aliso Canyon gas storage facility drew scrutiny when a four-month leak forced residents in nearby Porter Ranch from their homes. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

More than 40 complaints were received since 7 a.m., according to a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the the region’s air regulator.

AQMD has a team in Porter Ranch investigating the complaints, district spokesman Sam Atwood said.

A spokesman for SoCal Gas sent KTLA a link to the state’s methane monitor, saying it showed no spike Wednesday morning.

Atwood said that two of nine monitoring stations saw a slight increase in methane measurements on Wednesday. The seven other stations saw no change, he said.

Eight air samples were being brought to AQMD’s lab in Diamond Bar for analysis, but it will take 24 to 48 hours to get those results, Atwood said.

The initial SoCal Gas leak, discovered in October 2015, prompted thousands of people to leave their San Fernando Valley homes for months, and many people said they were sickened by the odor. Two schools were relocated.

The leak spewed polluting methane into the air, prompted statewide and federal legislation, and caused ongoing anger among many local residents. Multiple lawsuits have been filed, along with criminal charges against SoCal Gas.

The entrance to SoCal Gas facility at Aliso Canyon is shown on Jan. 22, 2016. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The entrance to SoCal Gas facility at Aliso Canyon is shown on Jan. 22, 2016. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The leak was finally permanently sealed on Feb. 18.

The utility has been ordered to stop injecting new natural gas into the Aliso Canyon pending the successful inspection of the 114 wells at the facility, which is in Santa Susana Mountains north of Porter Ranch.

The shutdown of Aliso Canyon has created a situation where gas-fired power plants in Southern California could see limited supplies, bringing the possibility of 14 days of interrupted electrical supply this summer, according to a state report.

Critics of SoCal Gas have called the threat of blackouts a scare tactic.

A new federal task force will look into the causes of the leak.

Anyone who smells natural gas should report it to SoCalGas at 800-427-2200.