In October 2015, a leak at the Southern California Gas Company’s (“SoCalGas”) Aliso Canyon facility in Porter Ranch, California made thousands of residents ill, and forced thousands of residents out of their homes.
The leak emitted over 100,000 tons of methane gas. The gas emissions lasted for nearly fifteen weeks until February 2016, when the California Department of Conservation sealed a damaged well with concrete. SoCalGas, a division of Sempra Energy, failed to report the leak timely. Furthermore, SoCalGas alleges that the fumes posed no danger to residents of the area and its neighboring communities. The claims made by SoCalGas Company appear patently false, and the fact that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor criminal charges against the utility company because they failed to report the dangerous gas leak immediately is obvious evidence of this falsity.
SoCalGas admitted that it notified gas and oil regulators about the leak on October 23, 2015, but it did not inform California or federal emergency officials until October 26, 2015. SoCalGas Company is seemingly posturing for a defense of the gas leak against class action lawsuits and individual claims.
A Statewide Emergency
The Aliso site gas leak created a statewide emergency, and it created a public health crisis for residents of Porter Ranch and its neighboring communities such as Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Northridge, Sylmar, Santa Clarita, and Granada Hills. Many of the injured residents report symptoms including headaches, nose bleeds, and rashes. The leak was primarily methane, but the gas also contained elements of known carcinogen benzene. Public health officials admit that the ailments described by residents can be caused by some of the odorants that SoCalGas added to the methane to make it detectable. The odorant used by SoCalGas was Scentinel T-50. Ingredients in Scentinel-50 include tetrahydrothiophene and t-butyl mercaptan.
Beyond its failure to immediately notify federal and state emergency officials, SoCalGas actively concealed the gas leak to residents of Porter Ranch and its neighboring communities. After the leak, but before residents were aware of what happened, residents reported that they complained to SoCalGas about nauseating smells; representatives of the company told the complainants that the smell was just part of routine maintenance.
SoCalGas has since apologized to residents for not providing them with notice sooner. However, the long-term effect of this exposure won’t be established with certainty for many weeks, months, or years. An injury attorney can help guide you through the compensation process. We can petition the court to seek funds that will provide monies to monitor the long terms effects of the gas exposure. Residents in the area of the gas leak potentially got exposed to the carcinogen benzene, and the people who were affected by this exposure will need health monitoring.
Gas companies like SoCalGas have an affirmative duty to store gas safely, routinely check for leaks, and prevent storage failures by identifying corrosion and other damage that can cause gas leaks. If a leak occurs, a gas company like SoCalGas has a duty to notify residents who are within the zone of danger immediately. To the affected residents, SoCalGas breached its duty when the Aliso Canyon leak went unreported. If you experienced any injury such as nose bleeds, headaches, and rashes, or you experienced adverse side effects from the Aliso site gas leak then you are entitled to injury compensation.
Personal Injuries from the Gas Leak
Injury compensation includes monetary compensation for your medical bills, pain, suffering, loss of work, and loss of enjoyment. Children and elderly residents are particularly sensitive, and they should seek the counsel of an experienced injury practitioner. Additionally, if you suffered a pre-existing condition that the gas leak worsened then you are entitled to compensation in that regard. Beyond injury compensation, you might suffer a diminution in your property value. Perhaps you were forced to move from you home. If you suffered damage to your property, then you are also entitled to compensation in that regard. Even business owners who suffered interruption to their business operations and lost income are entitled to compensation for those losses.
Many residents who returned to their homes continue to experience symptoms. It is essential that you seek out medical expertise to assist you with continued symptoms and suffering. Additionally, it is crucially important that you hire an injury attorney who can protect your rights.
Any person who regularly experiences symptoms as a result of the Aliso Canyon leak should get compensation by law. Often the claims process and litigation process can be an arduous fight.
SoCalGas Company denied any wrongdoing, and they stated that they would vehemently defend all claims and lawsuits. Large utilities, large companies, and insurance companies notoriously undervalue claimant damages. They attempt to reduce their exposures and liabilities by quickly settling claims before the full value gets established. People who suffered injuries and damages as a result of the gas leak risk settling for much less than they deserve by attempting to handle claims against the SoCalGas Company by themselves. A personal injury lawyer is familiar with the claims and litigation process. A personal injury lawyer can help you get what you deserve.
A no cost consultation with a licensed and experienced California Personal Injury attorney regarding your unique conditions is available by calling:
1-888-LAW-3111 Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm.
— Michael Avanesian, Esq.
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