Environment & Science

Benzene's role in the Aliso Canyon gas blowout

This photo, which appears in a report of the Interagency Task Force 
on Natural Gas Storage Safety, shows the damage to Aliso Canyon gas well SS-25 after the massive leak was plugged.
This photo, which appears in a report of the Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety, shows the damage to Aliso Canyon gas well SS-25 after the massive leak was plugged.
Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety

Listen to story

00:52
Download this story 0.0MB

Porter Ranch residents who live near the Aliso Canyon gas storage field have long wanted to know what chemicals they ingested living next door to that long-lasting leak.

A deposition made public this week provides residents with new information about the level of cancer-causing benzene emitted from the ruptured gas well. Keep in mind, that leak went on for four months.

The documents came out as part of a massive, 48,000-plaintiff litigation against SoCal Gas. In public statements, SoCal Gas had said only "trace levels" of benzene came from the gas field during the blowout.

However, it was unclear to neighbors what that meant.

In a deposition taken by plaintiff's attorneys, a SoCal Gas engineer said that level was 1 to 9 parts per million. Why does that matter? Well, the state's threshold for exposure to benzene is far smaller, just one part per billion.

Read more about Aliso Canyon on LAist.com: Why The Aliso Canyon Gas Blowout Is Still In The News: Benzene

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.