PORTER RANCH (CBSLA.com) — A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Southern California Gas Company in the wrongful death of a 79-year-old Porter Ranch woman.
According to the complaint, leaking gas from a busted well located at the company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility led to Zelda Rothman’s decline in health.
Last week, Rothman lost her battle with lung cancer. Her son and daughter were by her side at her home — which is located three miles away from the site of the leak — when she passed away.
According to the family’s attorney, Scott Glovsky, Rothman was able to lead a normal life before the natural gas began seeping into the air in the Porter Ranch community.
“She was going on cruises, driving and having lunch with friends very well before the gas leak,” Glovsky said. “After the gas leak, it was a very quick downfall.”
The family’s attorney explained leaking gas left Rothman with headaches and forced her to use an oxygen tank 24 hours a day.
“There’s about 80 tons of methane that is being released,” Glovsky added. “In that methane is benzene. Long term exposure to benzene is related to lung cancer.”
Recent air quality testing conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Health revealed methane levels and other toxins were above or were at normal levels.
Health officials, however, stress the gases are not expected to cause any long-term health effects.
Since the leak was reported on Oct. 23, 2015, thousands of families have been displaced from their homes. Students attending two Porter Ranch-area Los Angeles Unified School District campuses were relocated to other schools in the district.
The ongoing natural gas leak has not only raised concern over the public’s health, but it has also presented the opportunity for an uptick in crime as houses are becoming vacant in the area.
In a written statement, SoCal Gas Co. said they are “focused on getting people back in their homes.”
Meanwhile, CBS2’s Jasmine Viel reports the Rothman wrongful death lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind presented since the leak began.
According to Glovsky, the Rothman family is not seeking a specific amount of restitution.
The gas company has not provided a comment in response to the wrongful death lawsuit.