A Porter Ranch physician is continuing to document the health problems of San Fernando Valley residents who were in the path of the gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility three years ago.
Dr. Jeffrey Nordella, MD, who specializes in family and emergency medicine and is currently in private practice, is seeking people who were diagnosed with cancer during the time of the leak — which took place Oct. 23, 2015 until Feb. 11, 2016 — and afterward.
The six-question online survey is aimed — for now — at residents in the Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hills, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Simi Valley Sylmar, West Hills, Winnetka and Woodland Hills communities.
It is part of the independent Aliso Canyon Medical Surveillance Study that Nordella established after the gas leak.
“We want to look at the number of incidents in those communities and compare them to the number of diagnosis from other communities that really haven’t been exposed,” Nordella said. “We want to see if there is a statistically significant difference.
“Even if you or someone you know was diagnosed years ago, the information will be very important.”
The survey, which takes less than a minute to complete, only needs to be filled out once and will not ask for names, addresses or share personal medical information provided, Nordella said.
When asked why the initial survey was directed at specific communities, Nordella replied, “We’re trying to go just so many miles outside of Aliso Canyon. This [initial survey] is more of a probe to see what we need to do from there. We can expand it to other cities and even other states. But we want to make sure the [first survey respondents] were in the particular areas of exposure, for the people who are really contaminated.
“This is not a one-time test. There will be follow-ups every six months for three years.”
He said he is hoping to link his survey to the cancer data base of the USC Keck School of Medicine “so we can get a baseline.”
The leak, at the facility owned by the Southern California Gas company, sent more than 100,000 tons of methane into the air, making it the largest methane leak in U.S. history, according to a study released by UC Davis, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others.
At the peak of the leak — which caused hundreds to temporarily evacuate their homes — the amount of methane pouring into the air from the damaged pipe was double the rate of methane emissions from the entire Los Angeles basin, according to the study.
SoCalGas contractors would eventually clean approximately 1,700 homes in the area and most of the displaced residents returned in June of 2016.
Even after the leak was capped, many residents continued to report health problems such as migraines and respiratory irritation.
In 2017, Nordella released the findings of his independent health probe into one hundred and fifty patients after looking into toxins and metals found in hair and urine samples after his patients began showing illnesses related to the gas leak, as part of the Aliso Canyon Medical Surveillance Study.
On Nov. 2 of this year, he wrote on his Facebook page that “The people of the North San Fernando Valley have been exposed to the following:
-Natural Gas; Methane, Mercaptans, Hydrogen Sulfide, Benzene (at levels 1000-10,000 times greater than the EPA mandates), and other toxins.
-BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylene)
-Formaldehyde and Ammonia
-Herbicides (Acrolein) that are used for controlling micro-organism overgrowth.
-The “well kill chemicals” which are still unknown.
“And of course let’s not forget the shower of crude oil droplets (oily residue) which you, your spouse, children, and pets, with all of the toxins including Benzene, were exposed to.
“In addition, let’s not forget that inhaling these droplets can cause direct damage to the respiratory tract.”
Nordella went on to state that “what in essence lies 8,000 feet below the surface of the earth in Southern California Gas Companies’ wells is a chemical trashcan that through the process of the blowout was dumped into the North San Fernando Valley.”
He said it might be difficult for people to visualize how the gas leak could devastate their health because it is invisible to the eye. “Instead, how about visualizing a child being rained down on by droplets of crude oil?”
Nordella added that health impacts from the carcinogens inhaled by people “might have effects for 3-7 years, depending on the literature you read.”
For those persons wanting to view and take the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QV9V9W5
For those persons seeking more information about the Aliso Canyon Medical Surveillance Survey, visit http://www.alisocanyonmss.com/