The largest natural gas leak in U.S. history was plugged up about three weeks ago, but people in the area are still feeling the effects. Authorities even had to close down Holleigh Bernson Memorial Park on Tuesday so that Southern California Gas Co. crews could clean off the oily residue that was discovered covering the playground.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it took the gas company four months from the time the leak was first reported to actually fix the leak at Aliso Canyon. Yet even though that it has been fixed, and residents have moved back after many were temporarily displaced, they are still feeling the effects.
“It’s extremely frustrating that families continue to be the ones to go home, find issues to be resolved — and then everyone reacts to that,” said Paula Cracium, the president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council.
Droplets of brown oil and residue have been found not only on the aforementioned playground but also on citizen’s homes and cars. The belief is that during the repair process, oil leaked out and into the atmosphere, ultimately settling all around the neighborhood.
For their part, the gas company has said they will perform cleaning of at least 140 homes that were affected.
“We are committed to helping communities affected by the leak return to normal as fast as possible, and when residents expressed concerns about brown spots at local parks, we immediately mobilized crews to address the issue,” said Gillian Wright, vice president of customer service for the gas company.
In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has received hundreds of complaints of various health and illness issues such as headaches, upset stomachs, and respiratory issues. They believe many of these issues come from a certain odorant that’s added to the methane, called mercaptans. Americans already suffer from approximately one billion colds on average, so these elements could have even more devastating effects on the community’s health.
Air quality organizations are now monitoring the area. City authorities and officials from the gas company are continuing to work on efforts to fix this problem and prevent it from happening in the future.