The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily restricted aircraft flying over areas in Porter Ranch due to safety concerns caused by a natural gas leak.
Southern California Gas Co. detected the leak from an underground pipe at its Aliso Canyon facility on Oct. 23. The leak has been seeping into the ground and rising to the surface, resulting in a bad odor and growing health concerns from San Fernando Valley residents. Hundreds have relocated elsewhere and many residents continue to complain of headaches, nausea and nosebleeds.
The FAA flight ban will remain in effect until early next year on March 8. The federal agency has deemed the area hazardous and said only relief aircraft operations under the direction of the Los Angeles County Fire Department may operate aircraft within the specified areas, as posted on its website.
SoCal Gas is facing multiple lawsuits because of the leak, including one filed by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
The gas company’s president, Dennis Arriola, apologized last week for the leak, saying “we fell short of your expectations and, quite frankly, ours as well.”
In response to the leak, SoCal Gas said it is taking the necessary precautions to plug the leak and alleviate the negative effects it has caused. The utility company is drilling a relief well intended to connect to the leaking well. Once the two wells are connected the company will pump cement into the leaking well to plug the hole. So far the company has drilled roughly 1,000 feet below ground and is working around the clock to drill 8,000 feet to the leaking well, it reported on its website.
SoCal Gas will also open a community center at 12801 Tampa Ave. on Dec. 18 to provide information and support to the local community and residents who would like to file claims.