LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Attorneys Friday filed suit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) over an alleged cover-up of a gas leak at its Valley Generating Station in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
For at least three years, attorneys say the residents of Sun Valley, Pacoima and surrounding areas have been unknowingly exposed to toxic gas that has caused severe and persistent health effects for these residents.
According to the complaint, LADWP knew about the leak, yet failed to stop it or alert the thousands of residents in the surrounding area about it.
Residents listed in the complaint alleged they experienced seizures, dizziness, shortness of breath, impaired mental faculties (such as unexplained confusion) and more.
Attorneys say one woman suffered seizures when she moved into the area, then none after she left. Another young woman began suffering seizures and died as a result, the complaint alleged.
“Our seniors, our kids, the families we serve all live, work, play, and go to school in areas that neighbor the Valley Generating Station,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Executive Director of Pueblo y Salud, one of the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit. Rodriguez continued, “It’s a highly populated area and still no one warned us. Our families had no idea that the air they were breathing was toxic. There’s no excuse for that.”
In September, LADWP took one of the compressors offline entirely at the Valley Generating Station after methane emissions were detected, according to the utility.
Following additional repairs, officials said the leak had been reduced by 95%.
A statement released in August read in part: “Though the methane emissions are considered low, we are very sensitive to the concerns of local residents in the Northeast Valley and want to assure the community that LADWP is working on immediate interim steps to address the situation, including undertaking temporary repairs to reduce leakage from the compressor equipment, control of methane leakage through onsite capture and treatment, and minimizing usage of Valley to the extent possible.”
There was no immediate response to the lawsuit by LADWP.