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SoCal Gas Company 'Deeply Sorry' For Porter Ranch Leak

LOS ANGELES ( — It may take several months to repair a month-old gas leak that has angered residents in the Porter Ranch area and prompted health concerns, officials said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Board Of Supervisors heard reports from the departments of public health, fire, public works, regional planning and the Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

During the hearing, AQMD officials issued a notice of violation to Southern California Gas Company in response to the leak that occurred near Porter Ranch.

To date, 660 residents have complained to the South Coast Air Quality Management District about a rotten-egg smell in the area, with some reporting symptoms such as nosebleeds, headaches and nausea, according to county health officials.

According to a report by the California Air Resources Board, the amount of gas leaking from the Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility could be as high as around 50,000 kilograms per hour.

SoCalGas and public health officials said the leak of methane does not pose a threat because the gas dissipates outdoors and is coming from a site over a mile away from — and more than 1,200 feet higher than — homes or
public areas.

However, "stopping the leak quickly and safely is our company's top priority," company spokeswoman Gillian Wright told the board, adding that the utility was "deeply sorry" for the impact on the Porter Ranch community.

The leak was discovered Oct. 23 and was reported to the county five days later.

Since then, residents have complained of an intermittent rotten-egg smell along with reporting symptoms such as nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and other issues.

Some say they have concerns about the use of Odex, a biodegradable solution made from food-grade products.

Matt Pakucko says the community doesn't want to be guinea pigs in an experiment about whether the substance is safe.

Ongoing efforts to stop the leak include drilling a relief well, which might lead to more odors or noises in the area.

Authorities said it could take months to repair the leak.

On Monday, dozens of residents participated in a rally demanding an investigation into the gas company's handling of the leak.

In response, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has directed the gas company to expedite leak abatement and provide free, temporary relocation to affected residents.

Those who wish to receive temporary accommodations including meals and mileage reimbursement should visit the gas company's website.

The Los Angeles City Council has called for a similar hearing, but has not yet set a date.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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