Images shed new light on scope of Porter Ranch gas leak

Saturday, January 16, 2016
Images shed new light on scope of Porter Ranch gas leak
Scientific images show the extensive scope of a months long gas leak at Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility near Porter Ranch.

PORTER RANCH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- New scientific images show the extensive scope of the months-long gas leak in Porter Ranch.

The images were captured by a high-precision natural gas analyzer by a Boston University professor and a gas safety specialist.

The red line shows where they drove and the red peaks show just how high methane levels spiked in and around Porter Ranch from Jan. 8 through Jan. 13.

Bob Ackley, President of Gas Safety Inc. said most people breathe methane levels around 1.95 parts per million typically. But he said some of the levels he found in Porter Ranch are 60 times higher than that amount.

"We had one reading up to about 127 parts per million," Ackley stated.

The leak at Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility was first discovered last October. Thousands of residents have been relocated out of the area since then.

MORE: Video shows toxic gas plume releasing in Porter Ranch, experts say

Meantime, SoCal Gas is now saying it underestimated the number of times airborne levels of benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer, spiked over the last three months.

The company initially said two air samples briefly showed elevated concentrations of the substance. However, new information has come to light that at least a dozen samples contained at least twice the amount of benzene that's considered normal.

Still, SoCal Gas insists that the findings do not pose a health risk.

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services held a community meeting at the Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch on Friday.

Angry residents spoke out as frustrations boiled over as they searched for answers.

"What are you doing about those of us that are still paying gas bills to the people who are poisoning us?" one upset resident asked.

Others complained about the lack of straight forward answers they received. One man asked if the charcoal air filter he was given will remove the chemicals out of his house.

What followed was a 75 second response filled with jargon and no clear answer. The man then asked, "so is that a yes or a no?"

As others search for answers, some residents said they want want more certainty from officials.

"When I hear the agency members talk about, we think the health levels are OK, we think that the level of benzene in the air isn't harmful, rather than we know, or we're certain, it causes one to pause for a minute," Porter Ranch resident Scott Barer said.