Environment & Science

Porter Ranch gas leak: SoCal Gas CEO says incident 'not one of company's prouder moments'

Porter Ranch resident Michelle Theriault takes part in a press conference on a gas leak in Porter Ranch after a regular Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.
Porter Ranch resident Michelle Theriault takes part in a press conference on a gas leak in Porter Ranch after a regular Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A little more than a month after a gas leak was first reported in Southern California Gas Company's storage field near Porter Ranch, company officials apologized to residents at a Los Angeles City Council meeting Tuesday.

President and CEO Dennis Arriola addressed the community, along with his colleagues and representatives from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the L.A. County Public Health Department and other agencies.

"SoCal gas has proudly served our customers and our communities with safe and reliable natural gas for over 140 years,” said Arriola. “But unfortunately, this is not one of our prouder moments."

Arriola apologized for the discomfort and frustration of the Porter Ranch community, which is near the Aliso Canyon storage field. He added that the company is working with experts and state, county, and city agencies to reduce the amount of rotten-egg odor and stem the flow of gas. Those efforts include drilling a relief well to help permanently stop the leak.

Meanwhile, the R. Rex Parris Law Firm sent a 54-page letter to state officials Tuesday. The letter demanded the State Oil & Gas Supervisor to issue an emergency order requiring SoCal Gas to stop all injections in the oilfield by Thursday.

The law firm states that nearly 300 families in Porter Ranch have had to evacuate their homes. 

"The families in this community live here because it is supposed to be safe, and now it is not," the letter reads. "Children and adults suffer from regular nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and vomiting.  These families have a right to live without toxic poisoning of their neighborhood."

SoCal Gas currently estimates that the relief process would last three to four months, Arriola said. The company plans to have more information once the drilling operation gets started. That is scheduled later this week.

The leak has increased the state's methane output by 25 percent, and more than 132 Porter Ranch families have been relocated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dennis Arriola's name. KPCC regrets the error.