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Hawthorne gas leak: Displaced families want answers

September 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens of Hawthorne families say they're not getting the answers they need after they were forced to evacuate their homes on Sept. 13 because of a methane gas leak.

Now, many are concerned about their health.

"I am worried about safety, and I'm worried about all the news that they're telling us that they don't know," said Liz Mendoza, a displaced resident. "I mean, the well was open since Tuesday; they found gas on Thursday. What happened those other two days?"

"Obviously my baby who's only 2, not knowing what the air quality is going to be like. That's a lot of concern," said Miriam Munoz, a displaced resident.

Contractors working for Golden State Water were capping an out-of-service well near Imperial Highway and Truro Avenue, when it began seeping gas and thousands of gallons of water.

Residents who attended an informational meeting Saturday night fear there were problems at the site two days before they were evacuated.

"What was going on Tuesday and Wednesday when that thing opened up shooting water in the air?" said Andres Gaspar, a displaced resident.

"There was no reason to believe there was anything out of the ordinary before Thursday evening," said Patrick Scanlon, vice president of operations for Golden State Water.

Officials say the well has been rendered safe, but they're not ready to lift the evacuation order.

"We have the expertise out there, but that well has a life of its own, and it's going to throw curves, and unfortunately it has. But as soon as we can get you back in, we will." Hawthorne City Manager Michael Goodson told residents at the meeting.

After a week of life in hotel rooms, some are frustrated.

"[My daughter] misses her toys, she misses just a regular life, and that's what's more upsetting for me," said Munoz.

Even though there are no longer any detectable levels of methane at the well site, the displaced residents returned to hotels Saturday night. Officials have not been able to tell them when they'll be going home.

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