Gas Co. Criticized, Cited for Uncontrolled Methane Leak Near Porter Ranch

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Gillian Wright, SoCal Gas vice president of customer services, and Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity, answer questions from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on ther Aliso Canyon natural gas leak on Nov. 24, 2015. The leak was reported Oct. 23 and has been sickening area residents since then. (Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Air quality officials have cited Southern California Gas Co. officials over a month-long gas leak that has been sickening residents in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch, and county supervisors sharply criticized the utility Tuesday over the issue.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the affected area, called a potentially lengthy timeline to fix the problem “nonsensical and irresponsible.”

The leak at the gas company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility in the Santa Susana Mountains began Oct. 23 and is emitting methane at a rate of about 50,000 kilograms per hour, accounting for about one-quarter of all methane emissions in California.

The leak is also emitting mercaptons, additives that give the natural gas a sulfur-like smell and can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds. Porter Ranch residents have been complaining of those symptoms since the leak began.

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