The Aliso Canyon Health Study Community Advisory Group (CAG), formed after the disastrous methane gas leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch that occurred in 2015, is formally rejecting overtures for a proposed plan by the county Health Department to study the short- and long-term effects on residents from exposure to the leak.
Among the physical complaints by people made ill by the leak included nausea, nosebleeds, skin rashes and breathing problems. Thousands of families had to evacuate their homes until the leak was plugged.
County health officials in January had proposed an independent study on the lasting impacts from the leak that lasted 111 days and released more than 109,000 metric tons of methane and other chemicals into Porter Ranch and surrounding communities.
Officials wanted to select the research team and begin the study by the fall, anticipating that the research would take two or more years.
“From the beginning of the formation of the Aliso Canyon Health Study Community Advisory Group in 2019, we have insisted that any proper science-based study must include a clinically-based approach. We have stated repeatedly that it is imperative that the researchers have access to a comprehensive list of chemicals and materials used on the methane gas stored at the facility,” CAG said in a statement on Monday, Feb. 28.
“After the Goals and Priorities statement for the $25-million study was released last March by the LA County Department of Public Health (DPH), the CAG members unanimously agreed that the loose draft language invited a mediocre study by encouraging the use of data proxies and environmental abstractions. We felt this approach will not result in the Gold Standard Health Study that our community medically needs and morally deserves, after years of polytoxic exposure before, during, and after the worst gas blowout in US history in 2015,” group officials stated.
The advisory group asserts that county proposals, as stated, “:does NOT address the short and long-term health impacts of the blowout and of the storage site’s ongoing operations.” It said the only study it deemed acceptable is a “longitudinal health study” based on clinical examinations.
“Without examining the residents, this will not be a health study, but rather an assessment of environmental risk,” the group stated.
In addition, the statement said, the data that was collected in 2015 and 2016 “is problematic” as the air monitoring during the blowout “was handled by SoCalGas, which calls into question its usability for any study.”
CAG, residents, and health advocacy have continuously called for the complete shutdown of the facility, which is operated by Southern California Gas. The agency eventually agreed to a $1.8 billion settlement to end litigation.