In the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles, hundreds of people have have been relocated because of a gas leak caused by the Southern California Gas Company. Unless the problem is fixed soon, hundreds of residents of this affluent Californian community might have to be forced to spend their holiday season in a hotel.

Natural gas has continued to escape from an underground storage well in a field north of Los Angeles. The odors have traveled more than a mile away, into the neighborhood of Porter Ranch. The leak has been ongoing for more than 40 days, and there have been six failed attempts at repairing the problem.

Most of the gas that is being released is methane, and officials have stated that the gas is non-toxic and doesn’t pose any long-term health risks. However, certain odorants called mercaptans that are added to the gas in order to assist in leak detection are causing short-term bouts of nausea and dizziness that should disappear once the issue is dealt with. For now, the neighborhood is still plagued by an odor similar to that of rotten eggs.

The leak has been ongoing since October 23rd, and more than 1,000 complaints have been filed so far, with additional complaints coming in on a daily basis. Additionally, many students at Castlebay Lane Charter Elementary and the Porter Ranch Community School have been forced to miss classes.

For now, the gas company has been ordered to pay for hotels to accommodate the nearly 350 households that have been affected by the problem. Soon, an additional 500 other households will have to be relocated as well. Officials have stated that it could take up to four months to properly fix the leak.

The Southern California Gas Company has offered multiple apologies for the leak. The company is still unsure what exactly caused the issue in the first place. Reports indicate that leak is releasing 50,000 kilograms of methane on an hourly basis. This has increased California’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%. The company has already been cited for multiple air quality violations.

One major reason that the residents of Porter Ranch were able to be quickly relocated was because of their wealth. Other less affluent neighborhoods have existed nearby refineries and oil production sites for years. These residents have complained of noxious odors and health ailments for years, but virtually no actions were ever taken. It’s only when a wealthy neighborhood is affected that the city stepped up to do something. This unequal treatment has resulted in severe public backlash.

So while some rich people might have to stay in a Best Western over the holidays, at least they will have a nice clean home to come back to when all is said and done.

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