State of Emergency now underway for L.A. gas blowout — Oil begins raining down on homes
Los Angeles Times, Jan 5, 2016 (emphasis added): Utility is installing screens to contain oily mist at leaking well near Porter Ranch… The structures under construction on the west side of the well head are designed to capture airborne droplets of a brine solution that “may have contained trace amounts of oil naturally occurring within the leaking well’s reservoir,” said Trisha Muse, a spokeswoman for SoCal Gas… Now, a mixture of brine water and oil is rising up into the gas company’s natural gas storage zone, then traveling up the well and into the air. As a result, local residents are finding droplets of dark brown residue on their homes, vehicles, fish ponds and gardens… [The company] acknowledged that some residents had asked about “dark brown spots on their property.” “We sampled it and, according to our retained toxicologist and medical expert,” the company said, “the residue contained heavier hydrocarbons (similar to motor oil) but does not pose a health risk.”… On Monday, plaintiffs’ attorneys sent a letter to state regulatory officials [and] demanded that state regulators “explain what is happening with the petroleum now surfacing.”… “There is a complete lack of information in the well files,” their letter says, “to show where the gas and petroleum migrates underground and the risk for creating sink holes and geysers.”
Los Angeles Daily News, Jan 5, 2015: [A]n oily mist… has been surfacing… The seepage is the result of changing dynamics deep underground… “They (the demister pads) are necessary because as the reservoir pressure declines, fluids (oil and water) encroach into the reservoir and are then carried to surface with the gas.
BBC, Jan 8, 2016: Residents… point out cars, outdoor furniture and houses which have been marked with brown, oily spots… Tim O’Connor, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, has called it “an environmental and public health catastrophe,” said . “In terms of timelines this is going to surpass the gulf oil problem by a mile.”
New York Times, Jan 6, 2016: Gov. Jerry Brown, faced with mounting public anger and no end in sight to the leak, declared a state of emergency… Mitchell Englander, the Los Angeles city councilman who represents Porter Ranch [said] “This is one of the most disruptive, catastrophic environmental events that I’ve seen. It’s a truly chaotic crisis.”… Many who have stayed have taken to wearing surgical masks when they garden to keep out the rotten-egg smell and the oily mist that sometimes leaves brown residue on their cars… Dennis Arriola, the president of Southern California Gas Company [said] that experts had “never seen anything like this.”
Newsweek, Jan 7, 2016: SoCalGas and public officials have turned [Porter Ranch’s Matt Pakucko] and his fellow residents into “guinea pigs.”… [Sally Benson, who runs an energy storage lab at Stanford University] shares a worry of many in Porter Ranch as they deal with the mundanities of the leak: that the gas plume will somehow become ignited, leading to [an] explosion… “They’re really fortunate that this one hasn’t caught fire,” Benson says… [The FAA] has imposed a no-fly zone above Porter Ranch “out of concerns that fumes from the gas leak could be ignited from the air.” Schwecke, the SoCalGas vice president, says workers near the relief well are taking every precaution, not using their cellphones and working with brass hammers, which don’t spark… [David Balen, a local businessman on the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council] showed me photographs of a white dust that had collected on concrete surfaces around his property; an expert was coming to test the substance, which Balen thought was something toxic.
BBC, Jan 7, 2016: The governor of California has declared a state of emergency in a suburb of Los Angeles over the leaking of methane gas… the company is installing large mesh screens around the leak site to try and hinder the oily mist from spraying down on the community.
Bloomberg, Jan 5, 2016: The sulfurous scent of a natural-gas leak hangs in the air as mail carriers wearing gas masks make rounds… “This is the biggest community and environmental disaster I’ve ever seen, bar none,” said Mitchell Englander, who has represented Porter Ranch on the Los Angeles City Council since 2011. “Life there is not on hold — it’s on the edge and it’s on the brink of pandemonium.”