Hundreds of Porter Ranch residents gather to search for answers and options

Hundreds of Porter Ranch residents feeling the impact of the Aliso Canyon gas leak overflowed from a Woodland Hills Hilton conference room Tuesday. 

It's been a month since Southern California gas company's president apologized for the gas leak that still hasn't been contained. 

"It's costing people's lives," says Porter Ranch resident Rebecca Burkardt. 

It's the third time residents met with lawyers to continue searching for options and answers. 

"The gas company spins is one day, someone else spins it the other way. There's so many spin doctors out here," says Gregory Mockenhaupt, a disabled Vietnam Vet with asthma. 

Burkhardt and her husband Ramon Laboriel are six months pregnant with their first child. 

They say the gas company won't relocate them in a place that will take their pets too. 

"I can't put my babies in a boarding place. It's not fair. It's not right," says Laboriel. 

Their lawyer, James Frantz warned the group of potential effects of the leak and explained what he was fighting for. 

"Our goal is to make Sempra Energy and Southern California Gas accountable for their misbehavior in the handling and maintenance of these wells," says Frantz. 

Frantz says experts caution the current condition could get worse. 

"There's over 90 wells. that are almost the same age. There almost the same condition. They're deteriorating as this one is," says Frantz. 

Rebecca and Ramon are now weighing if the crisis is bad enough to separate from their four legged family members...for the health of their unborn child. 

"My biggest fear is that my son can't breathe," says Laboriel. 

FOX 11 reached out to Southern California Gas Company for an updated statement. They didn't immediately return our request for comment. 

Statement from SoCalGas:

SoCalGas is working as quickly and safely as possible to stop the natural gas leak at its Aliso Canyon
Storage Facility, and we are redoubling our efforts to aggressively address its impact on the community
and the environment.  The update below covers events and activities for the time period December 22-29, 2015.  More information on the topics below is available by calling  877-643-2331 or visiting
www.AlisoUpdates.com.

Stopping the Leak:  The relief well is being drilled to intercept the leaking well, SS-25, and to pump
cement into its base where it enters the reservoir of natural gas.  This will stop the flow of gas at its
source and permanently seal SS-25.  As a result, natural gas will no longer be able to enter the well or
reach the leak. A new relief well fact sheet can be found on our newsroom: https://www.socalgas.com/newsroom.

The work remains on schedule to be in position to stop the leak in the late-February-to-lateMarch timeframe. As of Midnight, December 29, the drilling operation has progressed to about 4,000 feet and is continuing in the third of five phases. This phase is focused on conducting multiple active magnetic ranging runs to locate and follow the path of the underground leaking well.  The relief well will intercept the leaking well at more than 8.500 feet below ground.  

Earlier in this week, the first ranging located the target well, a 7-inch pipe, at about 3,800 feet below ground.  Please note the media advisory on this milestone:  https://www.socalgas.com/newsroom. Relocation Process: As of December 28, 2,292 households have accepted relocation, and we are
working with 3,660 of them in different stages of finalizing arrangements.

We are continuing to implement the relocation plan for impacted customers, which is part of the December 24 agreement reached with the Los Angeles City Attorney, to which the city and other parties previously had the
opportunity to contribute.  The agreement also provides for a mediated dispute resolution process for any resident who is dissatisfied with the relocation process.

Our aim is to offer temporary accommodations to those affected by the odor as soon as possible. We offer to place residents in hotels as we work with them to review the options we have developed to meet their needs for more suitable accommodations.

If any resident were to feel the need to relocate before one of our representatives can reach out to them with options, they are free to make their own arrangements within the parameters of our program, and we will reimburse them.

Attempts to Reduce Emission: Reducing the level of the emission of natural gas and its odorant from the leak is one way SoCalGas is addressing the impact on both the community and environment.  

SoCalGas is withdrawing gas from Aliso Canyon to decrease the pressure pushing gas up from the reservoir and out through the leak.  

For several weeks, in consultation with the CPUC, SoCalGas has been withdrawing natural gas from the storage field at almost double the typical rate for this time of the year by prioritizing the use of natural gas from Aliso Canyon to supply customer demand.

As a result of these withdrawals, which are metered, the reservoir has gone from being 93 percent full, before the leak, to at most 58% full, as of December 28, with the additional amount that has been released unknown at this time.

Along with trying to reduce emissions through withdrawals, SoCalGas is also working with some of the world’s most experienced engineering firms to evaluate and design innovative solutions to capture the leaking gas and reduce the odor reaching the community.

Reducing Exposure to the Odorant:  SoCalGas is providing residents with both weatherization services to help reduce the odor from entering their homes and a range of filtration solutions to filter out the odor and other compounds related to the leak.   

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has determined certain activated carbon/charcoal HVAC filters, plug-in air purifiers and in-line HVAC air cleaners should be effective in reducing indoor odors associated with the leak. 

The agency is currently reviewing a range of models and has so far listed two plug-in models and one in-line HAVC model on its website: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/aircleaners/air_cleaners_gas_leak.htm

SoCalGas is receiving favorable responses, and some residents are choosing to postpone relocation in order to determine whether the filtration solution meets their needs.  We are currently providing activated carbon/charcoal filters and plug-in air purifiers, and are awaiting a new shipment of the in-line HVAC air cleaners.

We have also created a separate, pre-approval reimbursement process for residents who wish to purchase their own air purifiers that meet ARB’s specifications. Health Impact: We continue to conduct twice daily air sampling both at the leak site and within the community. Results are posted on our website at: https://www.alisoupdates.com/acu-aliso-canyon-airsample-results.

After reviewing the data, the State Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has recently made the following observation: “Based on the air sample data from the Porter Ranch neighborhood and measured levels of Volatile Organic Compounds found, there does not appear to be an acute toxicity health hazard from Volatile Organic Compounds in the Porter Ranch neighborhood as a result of the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak.”  

To better accommodate visitors to our Community Resource Center, we are expanding the Center into the store immediately next door at 19731 Rinaldi Street in the Porter Ranch Town Center.  The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.  The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and closed on New Year's Day.

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