If you were in or near Porter Ranch in October of 2015, you knew about the horrific methane leak. The gas leak, which took months to resolve, affected thousands of Los Angeles residents, especially those in the Porter Ranch area who were forced to be evacuated from their homes.
More than two years later, a $119.5 million settlement has been reached between Southern California Gas Co. and several government entities. The court must approve the settlement before any money exchanges hands.
The leak had a significant impact on the environment and still negatively affects Los Angeles area residents. Here's what you need to know:
The leak compromised air quality throughout the area
The leak, which was discovered October 23, 2015, was pouring tens of thousands of kilograms of methane into the air every hour. By the time the leak was fixed, the amount of gas released into the air was equivalent to emissions from 500,000 cars for a year.
An especially potent greenhouse gas, methane is more harmful than carbon dioxide. The leak significantly undermined a lot of the work California had been doing to improve the state's air quality.
Did you smell the leak when it happened?
Methane is a colorless and odorless gas, but an odorant called mercaptans is added so that people can smell a leak. Not long after the leak began, residents of the area began calling 9-1-1 to report the smell the leaking gas.
Unfortunately, a methane leak comes with more than an unpleasant smell. After exposure to the toxic gas, many residents were reporting nosebleeds and headaches, which are common symptoms consistent with exposure to methane.
What are the long-term effects?
Headaches and nosebleeds can be just the beginning of the problems with exposure to methane gas. People with respiratory conditions -- such as asthma -- can be particularly affected since exposure to methane can exacerbate breathing problems by irritating the lungs and other soft tissues.
What the settlement doesn't fix
The leak has been repaired, and area residents have been able to move back into their homes. However, you and your neighbors were likely exposed to a large quantity of methane before the evacuation. Also, the leak had a significant impact on the amount of smog in the area. These issues could have long-term effects for you and others in the area.
The settlement with SoCalGas does not address individual losses. Many people were not only inconvenienced by the leak, many suffered serious health problems and may have experienced other damages as well.