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California

More than 130 families relocated after methane leak near Porter Ranch

Matt Pakucko

Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, right, speaks to a reporter Tuesday after testifying to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors about a gas leak that has sickened residents in his neighborhood.

(Brian Melley / Associated Press)

Southern California Gas Co. has temporarily relocated more than 130 families in the San Fernando Valley following a natural gas leak that has sickened residents for weeks.

The gas company received 552 inquiries from residents asking to be moved, spokeswoman Kristine Lloyd said Friday. Some 250 customers refused the utility’s help and decided to find housing on their own.

A leaking well in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch has elicited hundreds of complaints from residents and drawn the scrutiny of state regulators and health officials.

The company has been directed by county health officials to pay for temporary relocation for residents in the affected area. Customers who made their own arrangements at a hotel over the holiday weekend will be reimbursed up to $250 per room per night, plus taxes and fees. The company is reimbursing customers for food as well.

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The gas company discovered the leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility Oct. 23 and said it occurred in a pipe casing a few hundred feet below the surface of a well that goes 8,500 feet underground. The gas is flowing into the earth and seeping up through the ground, Southern California Gas said.

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It is emitting methane at a rate of about 50,000 kilograms per hour, accounting for about one-quarter of all methane emissions in California.

The leak is also emitting mercaptans, additives that give the natural gas a sulfur-like smell and can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds -- symptoms Porter Ranch residents have been complaining of since the leak began.

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For more local and breaking news, follow @sarahparvini on Twitter

Times staff writers Tony Barboza and Abby Sewell contirbuted to this report.

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