This mom stepped forward to tell her story about the Porter Ranch Gas Leak. She asked to remain anonymous:
I remember the day that Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility started leaking gas into the air because it is the day our lives changed for the worst — Friday, October 23, 2015.
Earlier that month, I had given birth to our third son. We were out for an afternoon walk when I smelled an unusual odor in the air. I thought nothing of it until I returned home and received a notice about a “gas leak.” The Southern California Gas Company is located a stones throw from our home. As a mother of three children under five years of age, I started researching “gas leaks” and “fracking.” I learned that storage facilities like Aliso Canyon aren’t just a California problem. There are about 400 similar natural gas storage sites across the country. The more I researched, the more alarmed I became. But learning that most toxic gases emitted into the air can’t be seen or smelled unless an odorant like mercaptan is added to detect a leak, was the most frightening fact. I knew the odor I smelled was the mercaptan gas additive.
When will the gas leak stop?
With a newborn and two young children, I knew I needed to relocate my family immediately. Relocating my family of five and two pets to a hotel, I had high hopes the leak would be plugged and we’d be able to go home in a day or so. After a couple of unbearable days in the hotel, I knew we had to move on.
It’s now been three months since the leak was detected.
We moved to a new city 19 miles away. And now, thousands of families from Porter Ranch have been evacuated. SoCalGas has since released a wealth of information to the residents of Porter Ranch.
Still no fix in sight.
This natural gas leak is the largest leak in U.S. history, and the worst environmental disaster in the country since the 2010 BP oil spill. California Governor Jerry Brown finally declared a state of emergency at Porter Ranch. This is a win for residents. What does it mean? It means emergency regulations will now require SoCalGas to undergo daily inspections of their wells and regular testing, monitoring and measuring of the gas flow.
What about the health effects from the gas leaks?
Since we first moved into our beautiful Porter Ranch home five years ago, my son (five years old now) has had ongoing nosebleeds. After many pediatrician visits, I could never understand why he had more nosebleeds than his friends living a few miles away. My pediatrician reassured me it was due to winter dry weather and his age. Flash-forward to my son’s most recent pediatrician visit a month ago: I asked my pediatrician, “Could all of his frequent nosebleeds be tied to natural gas?” He answered, “Yes.” Along with bloody noses, I learned other symptoms could occur from living in close proximity to oil and gas operations, including: headaches, fatigue, anxiety and vomiting.
Call it overreacting, or call it playing it safe (I prefer the latter); we were one of the first families inquiring about the leak and one of the first to leave.
The SoCalGas gas leak has been incredibly disruptive to more than 2,000 Porter Ranch families that have been displaced and relocated. For parents, it’s a priority to protect our children from any possible toxic co-pollutants in the air such as benzene from the methane pollution.
- Why wasn’t it detected earlier?
- Why were there no safeguards in place to prevent such a disaster?
- Why is it taking so long to fix?
With new information surfacing daily, and with the leak releasing 1,200 tons of methane into the air everyday for the last three months, I can only pray this gets better soon.
Porter Ranch holds a big part of my heart. It is where I created my beautiful family. It is where we became part of the wonderful Porter Ranch community. And it is where we are all united in our mission to:
SHUT IT ALL DOWN!