Health

LA County supes mull jump-starting Porter Ranch health study

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

Listen to story

00:48
Download this story 0.0MB

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a motion to push forward a stalled study on the possible long-term health effects of the massive Southern California Gas Co. leak near Porter Ranch.

The motion, by Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Sheila Kuehl, directs the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to begin developing protocols for the study. 

Last January, the AQMD ordered SoCal Gas to pay for the study, "and [SoCal Gas] committed to funding this health study as required by SCAQMD's order," according to the supervisors' motion.  "Since that time, [the gas company] has retracted from their initial commitment to fund this important health study," it says.

The air pollution agency filed a lawsuit against SoCal Gas in July to force it to pay for the research, the motion says.

SoCalGas spokesman Chris Gilbride says the firm is committed to providing up to $400,000 to fund the health study, but blames the lack of progress on the AQMD.

"To date, AQMD has not provided SoCalGas with a proposed health study plan to be funded by SoCalGas," he says.  "SoCalGas continues to urge the AQMD to provide a proposal for and to quickly begin a health study consistent with the scope that was originally discussed during the Abatement Order proceedings."

Since the blown-out well was capped in February, the gas company has insisted that there is no danger to the public.

"Since the well has been sealed, thousands of samples have been taken by regulatory agencies, including the Department of Public Health, of the indoor and outdoor air, and of soil and dust in selected homes in the Porter Ranch community," the utility said in a July statement. "Public Health’s own testing results have detected no substance above state or federal levels of concern."

The motion before the supervisors orders the two agencies to develop protocols for the study to be conducted by an independent panel of scientific experts and to report back to the board in 21 days.