A high-profile law firm has filed a class action suit against the utility company responsible for an ongoing natural gas leak in an affluent Los Angeles community.
Keller Rohrback LLP and Robert L. Lieff, of counsel to Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, have filed a class action lawsuit against Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and its parent company Sempra Energy on behalf of Porter Ranch residents, who have been living with the consequences of a massive natural gas leak since October.
The source of the leak is allegedly a natural gas injection well operated by SoCalGas. Residents have complained about becoming sick from the fumes of the leaked natural gas and odorants, which reportedly can cause headaches, nosebleeds and other health problems. A potential fix for the leaking injection well is still at least a month away, according to a Jan. 21 statement by the law firm.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks damages that residents have suffered as a result of the leak, such as diminution in property values; the establishment of a medical monitoring program; and other relief.
According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon Storage Facility has the capacity to store more than 80 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, and the utility operates approximately 115 injection/withdrawal wells at the site. One of those wells, Well SS-25, is the reported source of the leak.
In addition to displacing residents and damaging their health, the gas leak from the site is causing a environmental concerns related to the release of a high amount of methane — a greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere. More than 40 million cubic feet (MMcf) is estimated to have leaked from the well. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has called the leak “potentially the biggest health emergency in the history of Los Angeles.”