More LA firefighters suing SoCal Gas after 2015 leak

SoCal Gas

Security stand guard of Aliso Canyon storage facility on Monday, May 20, 2019 in Porter Ranch during a press conference where attorneys discussed a report that found Southern California Gas Company was at fault for the largest release of methane in U.S. history during the 2015 Aliso Canyon Gas Well Blowout. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

 

(Daily news)

Almost four years after the Aliso Canyon gas leak broke out near Porter Ranch, the number of firefighters who have filed a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Co. over the 2015 gas leak continues to grow.

In total, 55 Los Angeles firefighters who helped Porter Ranch residents after the 2015 blowout filed a lawsuit against the utility, alleging the utility knowingly exposed them to hazardous levels of toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The news comes weeks after a state official who works with the California Public Utilities Commission filed a separate lawsuit, alleging he came to contact with hazardous substances during the gas leak that left him with rare cancer.

The first complaint from the firefighters was filed in October of last year, when nearly 30 first responders filed a civil lawsuit against the company, saying the exposure caused many of them to suffer from nosebleeds, migraine headaches, dizziness, skin rashes and breathing difficulties. Some of them now suffer from different types of cancer, according to the complaints.

One of the plaintiffs, Daniel Mehterian, a recently retired firefighter, said back in October that the gas company “mislead us and put us in harm’s way without giving us the chance to warn others.”

But Christine Detz, a spokeswoman for the gas company, wrote in an email that “SoCalGas has worked as a partner alongside first responders, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, throughout our history. We have the utmost respect and appreciation for the hard work, professionalism, and dedication to safety demonstrated each day by California firefighters… All the data collected and analyzed by public health officials have shown that there was and is no long-term risk to public health or safety from the gas leak.”

The lawsuits stem from the 2015 blowout at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility when one of the company’s 115 wells ruptured, sending more than 100,000 metric tons of natural gas spewing into the air.

In the days following the gas leak, firefighters from Station 28 remained in Porter Ranch while everyone else was evacuated.

By the time the leak had been capped four months later, thousands of residents in nearby Porter Ranch had been forced to flee their homes, and many people from the area had reported various illnesses, similar to what the firefighters are claiming in their lawsuit.

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