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L.A. County supervisors want the state to oversee gas well inspections

L.A. County supervisors want the state to oversee gas well inspections
Crews work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles. The escape of natural gas from under the Los Angeles neighborhood is taking months to stop because of pressure from the leak. (Dean Musgrove/L.A. Daily News)

Los Angeles County supervisors called on the state Tuesday to set up a new regulatory structure to oversee natural gas storage facilities like the one in Aliso Canyon that has been leaking for the past two months.

The panel voted unanimously to send a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders requesting that the state immediately modernize inspection technology and update what they considered to be an antiquated regulatory process.

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The letter also will call for the state to establish an independent panel of experts to oversee the inspection and repair of remaining wells across the region and in communities with facilities similar to the one that has adversely affected nearby Porter Ranch.

Those include wells and storage sites near Santa Barbara, Los Angeles International Airport and Valencia, they said.

Fumes from the leak have sickened Porter Ranch residents, thousands of whom have been relocated to temporary housing by Southern California Gas Co. under orders from the county Department of Public Health.

County health officials say the symptoms residents are experiencing, including nausea, headaches and nosebleeds, are a reaction to additives that give the gas its sulfur-like odor. They do not expect long-term health problems.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Porter Ranch area, described the leak as "a mini Chernobyl" and said that health effects could surface months or years down the line.

In a written statement, he asserted that the leak was the "result of a massive failure on the part of all involved parties" and "exposes the corruption and incompetence of the state's regulatory system."

In a later draft, Antonovich softened the wording to say it "calls into question the efficacy of the state's regulatory system."

Twitter: @sewella

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