LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As Southern California Gas Co. crews worked to clean Porter Ranch-area parks, Los Angeles County public health officials said Wednesday, March 9, they will go door-to-door in the area to investigate “unexpected’” health symptoms being reported by residents even after the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak was plugged.
Since the leaking gas well was sealed last month, the department has received about 300 complaints from people who have either returned or tried to return home and “reported to us they are experiencing symptoms again,” according to Cyrus Rangan, who leads the toxicology and environmental assessment bureau of the county Department of Public Health.
He noted the complaints — which include nausea, stomach aches and respiratory irritation — are less severe and frequent than they were during the leak, when the agency received 700 to 800 phone calls about health issues.
Rangan said outdoor air quality in the area is thought to be “essentially restored to normal background levels since the sealing,” making the continued complaints “relatively unexpected.”
“With these mounting reports of symptoms in the community, we wanted to make sure that we respond effectively to it,” Rangan said.
Surveyors trained in Epidemiology will visit residents within a two- to three-mile radius around the gas storage facility starting today, March 10, and continuing through Saturday to get a better understanding of why symptoms are still being reported, he said.
“The purpose of this survey is to gather more information on the health symptoms that are currently being experienced, more so than we can glean on a direct phone call,” he said.
The surveyors, who will be visiting the homes of people who stayed in the area during the leak and those who temporarily relocated, will attempt to “get a full picture of what people’s experiences are upon returning home, whether they are still smelling odors, what kinds of symptoms they are experiencing and under what circumstances,” he said.
Rangan said after the survey, an analysis will be done to determine what to do next about the reported health effects.
The health department outreach coincides with plans by SoCalGas crews to visit the 140 homes closest to the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility to determine if the properties need cleaning. Some residents have reported brown or black oily spots and residue on their properties. County health officials said earlier that the residue does not generally pose a health risk, but can cause a rash if touched.
The Gas Co. has also dispatched cleaning crews to a series of public parks in the Porter Ranch area. Cleaning work was done March 8 on playground equipment and fencing at Holleigh Bernson and Moonshine Canyon parks at Sesnon Boulevard and Porter Ranch Drive.
The company also plans to do cleaning work at Palisades Park at Tampa Avenue and Braemore Road; Viking Park at Viking and Nau avenues; and Porter Ridge Park at Sesnon Boulevard and Beaufait Avenue.