California Brings Negligence and Nuisance Lawsuit Against Gas Company over Aliso Canyon Methane Leak

640px-Gas_well_tanks_(5909569119)The Air Quality Management District in California has filed an action against SoCalGas, seeking damages associated with the large-scale methane gas leak that has caused numerous incidences of illness throughout the San Fernando Valley region. The lawsuit seeks a total of $440,000 in damages for each day of the leak, and it indicates that the leak has occurred for over 95 days. The lawsuit alleges claims for public nuisance as well as negligence against SoCalGas in the operation of its Aliso Canyon facility. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendant failed to respond properly to the leak.

The Aliso Canyon leak has made numerous headlines in recent weeks, as the uncontrolled and massive leak of natural gas from a well connected to an underground storage facility in the region continues. The gas storage facility is the second-largest storage facility of this type in the nation and belongs to Southern California Gas Company. Some sources indicate that the environmental harm that has occurred and continues to occur as a result of the leak is more substantial and severe than the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred off the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico during 2010. On January 6, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown dubbed the gas leak a state of emergency.

The leak was traced to a metal pipe in one of the defendant’s wells lying nearly 9,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The pipe is used to move natural gases in and out of the well. This is not the first instance of a natural gas leak associated with operator error. The Environmental Defense Fund conducted a study starting in 2012 that identified issues with natural gas facilities across the United States, including countless miles of utility lines buried underneath highly populated areas.

Methane gas can cause serious illnesses and injuries. The residents of Porter Ranch, a neighborhood located near the Aroyo Canyon leak site, have reported severe chronic headaches, nosebleeds, and other injuries. Methane is also highly flammable even at a low concentration and considered an asphyxiant. The gas poses particular dangers when it is released in confined spaces. Sources are already referring to the Aroyo Canyon leak as one of the largest methane gas leaks ever identified, suggesting that over 87,000 metric tons of methane gas have been released into the air above the region since the leak began during October 2015. This is the equivalent of over $13 million in natural gases or nearly 830 million gallons of gasoline.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a toxic or environmental tort, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, we know just how devastating and stressful this type of injury can be for you and your family and how daunting it can seem to bring a claim against those responsible for your harm. We proudly serve clients throughout the country, including in Illinois, Florida, Texas, and California. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your rights, so call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.

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