We have an unprecedented environmental disaster on the scale of which has not seen since the BP oil spill disaster in the gulf. And it is happening right here in our own backyard in Porter Ranch. The seriousness and the scope of the Aliso Canyon gas leak simply cannot be overstated. But yet where is the press coverage that the BP oil spill received? Where is the sense of urgency? What is going on?
Since October, natural gas has been pouring out of the ground from a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground. It has continued spewing natural gas equivalent to the strength of a volcanic eruption non-stop since that time. 50,000 kilograms of gas per hour rockets out of the ground and into the environment. Estimates are that the leak will account for one quarter of all the methane emissions in the state!! And the cherry on top of this sundae…So Cal Gas says this will continue for 3 to 4 more months. Even the FAA has restricted the airspace above the area because the pilots may fall ill. Two schools in the area affecting over 1800 children have closed. Again, where is the sense of urgency?
This is a human disaster, the long term effects of which are very uncertain. What is certain is that people living in the area are feeling very ill. I have seen several patients suffering from the effects of this disaster. They are experiencing serious respiratory issues, vomiting, nausea, headaches, nosebleeds and brain fog. They are worried about their children playing outside and being exposed to the gas. Pregnant women are justifiably worried what harm may come to their fetus. The elderly and respiratory compromised patients are having great difficulty with the ever present gas and the nasty smell. How long can these residents be expected to tolerate these assaults to their health?
The unmitigated release of toxic methane gas in a residential community would and should warrant a much larger mobilization of state and federal resources. A state of emergency has been declared in the Porter Ranch area by the LA Board of Supervisors but you would think they announced that the pollen count was high based on the lack of responsibility or urgency that this problem is being managed with. Where is the Governor? Why isn’t he declaring the state of emergency for the area? In this humble physicians opinion, everyone is asleep at the wheel or maybe passed out from the noxious gas fumes while the residents of the area rumble along down the highway to an uncertain future.