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PRNC Brings County Health To The Table
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Please find updates on the Gas Leak on our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PorterRanchNC/

Chief Operating Officer Bret Lane and Senior Vice President for Gas Operations and System Integrity Jimmie Cho

Gas Company, Chief Operating Officer Bret Lane and Senior Vice President for Gas Operations and System Integrity Jimmie Cho

Residents of Porter Ranch thronged the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council meeting with questions about the gas leak and concerns about their health on November 4. The Gas Company discovered the leak on Friday, October 23 at the Aliso Canyon Field which is 1,200 feet above and a mile away from homes in Porter Ranch. While they have communicated that natural gas is not toxic and there is no danger, they were slow in notifying the community about their efforts to stop the leak and many people have reported becoming sick and nauseous possibly due to the odorant added to the gas.

The meeting began with comments by Chief Operating Officer Bret Lane and Senior Vice President for Gas Operations and System Integrity Jimmie Cho. Lane apologized for the poor communications about the leak and the problems it has caused for the community. He acknowledged “we hear your concerns…we’re tirelessly working on this issue. We’re working as fast as we can.” They explained that they began with typical procedures to assess the leak and determined that they had a more complicated problem than originally expected. They have called in one of the top teams in the world to address the problem. Those experts arrived on site Saturday. Both Lane and Cho have been on site every day, working to stop the leak; they apologized for coming in their work gear and both looked tired. They explained that after the initial assessments were conducted during the first week of the leak, it was determined that highly specialized equipment was needed. Teams started setting up that equipment in the last two days. They hope to know soon whether this approach is effective.

Lane and Cho also explained that teams were monitoring the air at the field regularly and at multiple sites in the community two times a day.

Left to Right: Edwin L. Pupka, Senior Enforcement Manager, Office of Engineering and Compliance, County of Los Angeles Fire Department, Health and Hazardous Materials Division: Bill Jones, Chief, County Supervisor Michael Antonovich: Jerrod DeGonia, San Fernando Valley Field Deputy, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health: Katie Butler, Health Impact Assessment Analyst, Environmental Epidemiologist

Next to speak was Bill Jones, County of Los Angeles Fire Hazmat Chief. He explained that they had determined that the levels of gas were not explosive levels and no evacuation was necessary. He has been coordinating the involvement of all the departments to be aware of the situation and conduct their assessments.

The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) representative, Edwin Pupka, noted that they received complaints starting on Saturday, October 25, and have received 180 complaints in all. They interview each complainant, assess odors at the complainant location, and have sampling devices in the field. Residents with concerns can report them to 1-800-CUT-SMOG or online: http://www.aqmd.gov/contact/complaints

In planning for this meeting, the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council saw that the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health and the State of California, were not yet officially involved in the gas leak situation, as County Fire had not deemed the levels of gas high enough to warrant their participation. The Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council felt that it was very important for those departments as well as Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR ) to hear first hand from the public about the health concerns the PRNC was hearing, and invited them to the meeting.

Epidemiologist, Katie Butler, of County of Los Angeles Health reported that she had reviewed the air sampling results to determine the potential short and long term effects on residents. She stated that the results are much lower than anything her department would be worried about. The air samples would have to be 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than what the public is smelling to be a cause for concern about long term health.



During the question and answer period, the first speaker wanted to make a public records request of all agencies and was focused on the timing of the Gas Company notifying the public about the leak. Multiple residents expressed concern about the health impacts to themselves, their children and their pets and wanted to know if the odor could be causing their illness. Many were frustrated and angry. Butler replied, “The odor could be causing health effects. The Health Department is not denying that by any means.” Multiple people expressed concern about smelling gas in their neighborhoods outside of the gas leak and were encouraged to contact officials after the meeting for follow up. One resident suggested that the Gas Company provide information and training to local hospitals and medical facilities about the situation and possible effects to aid doctors in their interactions with patients.

When asked if the leak could be coming from anywhere else than the currently identified location, the Gas Company responded that it could not. All the tests have shown the highest concentrations in close proximity to the well. The leak is reported to be shallow in a well that is 8,000 feet deep. Lane described the well itself as being a space filled with sand, with the gas residing in the pore space between the grains of sand.

When asked about the cause of the leak and how to prevent future leaks, Lane reported that they would be able to better assess the cause after they stopped the leak.

Map of air quality monitoring stations in Porter Ranch

The President of the Renaissance homeowners association asked for air monitoring uphill from their community, in addition to the current monitoring below their community on Sesnon. Concerned neighbors asked for a Community Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted to allow the Gas Company to continue operating. You can view the Air Monitoring Info on the Gas Company Site.

Further Information

The Gas Company has set up an information tent near their entrance on Sesnon and Tampa, where you can inquire or express your concerns in person from 10am to 5pm daily. You may also visit the webpage the Gas Company has set up on this gas leak at: http://www.socalgas.com/news-room/aliso-canyon.shtml

The Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council was pleased to help provide this information to the community and will continue to provide updates on the situation. Because we have heard and continue to hear about resident health concerns, we have inquired about how the Gas Company can provide assistance to those people with significant physical and financial impacts. The have responded with this statement:

"We apologize for how this incident may be affecting you, and we appreciate the community’s ongoing patience as we work as quickly as safety will allow to resolve this situation.  If you believe you have suffered harm or injury as a result of this incident, please complete the online form at http://www.socalgas.com/about-us/our-services/consulting/claims.shtml or call 866-753-3619."

List of Gas Company and Public Officials present:
Gas Company, Chief Operating Officer Bret Lane and Senior Vice President for Gas Operations and System Integrity Jimmie Cho, 818 435-7707, AlisoCanyon [at] SoCalGas.com

Larry Bittleston, Aliso Canyon Turbine Replacement Project Engineering Manager (not on 11-4 panel, but part of 10-26 community meeting), 818-701-3475, lbittlston [at] semprautilities.com

David Meza, Public Affairs Manager, 323-605-9393, DMeza [at] semprautilities.com

South Coast AQMD: Edwin L. Pupka, Senior Enforcement Manager, Office of Engineering and Compliance, 909-396-3332, epupka [at] aqmd.gov (retires on 11-16-2015)

County of Los Angeles Fire Department, Health and Hazardous Materials Division: Bill Jones, Chief, 323-890-4042, Bill.Jones [at] fire.lacounty.gov

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich: Jerrod DeGonia, San Fernando Valley Field Deputy, 818 993-5170 JDeGonia [at] lacbos.org

County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health: Katie Butler, Health Impact Assessment Analyst, Environmental Epidemiologist, 213-738-3220, KButler [at] ph.lacounty.gov

State of California, Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources: Bruce Hesson, District Deputy, 805-654-4761, Bruce.Hesson [at] conservation.ca.gov

Representatives were also on hand from the offices of: State Senator Pavley, Assemblymember Scott Wilk, Mayor Garcetti, Councilmember Englander, LAUSD Board of Education Scott Schmerelson. LAFD Chief of Operations Valley Bureau Deputy Chief Daryl C. Arbuthnott. LAFD Valley Fire Chief, LAPD Senior Lead Officer Del Valle and many other local officials were present.

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The Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council is an organization that is officially certified by the City of Los Angeles to increase our influence with City lawmakers and departments to improve our community.

The PRNC came about as a result of Los Angeles City Charter Reform and interested stakeholders in our community. The Board is elected by stakeholders and holds monthly meetings, usually on the first Wednesday of the month. The agenda is emailed to those who subscribe (see the green box in the upper corner), on our website here and posted at 11280 Corbin Avenue, Northridge, CA 91326 on a bulletin board facing Corbin street.

The Board is comprised of volunteers who want to help you make Porter Ranch a better place to live, work and grow. We can't do it for you, but we can do it with you.

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