PORTER RANCH (CBSLA.com) — A new resource center opened Wednesday to help residents affected by the ongoing natural gas leak in Porter Ranch.
The community center, which opens seven days a week, is located at 19731 Rinaldi Street in the Porter Ranch Town Center. Affected residents can find out information about the relocation process, file a claim and hear how to reduce odor in their homes.
“Our new community resource center will provide another way for [residents] to get the information they need,” said Gillian Wright, Vice President of Customer Services for the Southern California Gas Company. “We share everyone’s concerns about this leak’s ongoing impact on the community and environment and we are working as quickly and as safely as possible to stop it.”
“This center is absolutely what we need,” said Porter Ranch resident Alison Connolly who has many questions. “We’re directed to so many websites. And then the attorneys are writing to us and talking to us. And I don’t know really who to believe.”
“We want to answer and be available to answer all of their questions,” said Mike Mizrahi of the Southern California Gas Company.
Gas started leaking on Oct. 23 at the Aliso Canyon oil storage facility above the Porter Ranch community.
Since then, crews have been working to reduce the natural gas leak by drilling a relief well, which could take up to four months to complete. Authorities are also using a pipe to capture the escaping gas.
Lawyers who are suing the company captured infrared video that shows methane gas hovering above the community.
Health officials stressed the levels of gas present in Porter Ranch are not a threat to the public. Residents, however, have reported nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea and headaches.
Another big issue is whether to relocate students at Porter Ranch Community School and Castlebay Lane Charter School. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education is expected to discuss the issue.
“I agree on relocating the school,” said Dhara Patel who has two children who go to Porter Ranch Community School. “Because it’s going to be next 2 or 3 months or more, I surely like my kids to be relocated on another place where they’re more safe. They’re breathing pure air,” Patel said.
Melissa Cuevas also has two children at the school. But she opposes relocation. “We’re not experiencing symptoms. And it’s going to be really disruptive to our lives and the education of my kids to have to go through this relocation,” Cuevas said.
On Tuesday, L.A. County supervisors declared a local emergency in the area – seven weeks after the leak was reported.
SoCal Gas Company has already relocated 1,700 families from the area.
For updates regarding progress on repair efforts, click here or call (818) 435-7707.