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LA Unified monitoring gas leak near northern SF Valley schools

Mike Szymanski | November 24, 2015

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LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said late yesterday the district’s facilities staff plans to monitor methane gas levels near two schools in northern San Fernando Valley.

Cortines said he will post the results of the air quality report right away on the LAUSD website.

Concerns about a smell in the Porter Ranch neighborhood led to a protest that demanded the Southern California Gas Company close an Aliso Canyon storage facility that is leaking methane gas. The leak reportedly accounts for one-fourth of all the methane emissions in California, an amount equal to emissions from 160,000 cars a year.

Some residents in the area have complained about nausea and headaches due to the smells, and some have moved away temporarily. The Los Angeles County Health Department issued a statement saying, “These exposures do not constitute an immediate danger to life, and permanent or long term health effects are not expected. Daily, short-term symptoms are expected to continue, as long as the odors remain.”

The schools are closed this entire week for Thanksgiving holidays, and children will not be allowed to play outside when school resumes next week until the LAUSD investigation is completed, Cortines said.

“We are closely monitoring the natural gas leak in the Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon Storage Field to ensure that our students and employees in the Porter Ranch area are safe,” he said in a release. He cited links to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and its report that the methane gas poses little direct health risk. Methane is odorless, and the smell is caused by a non-toxic additive to help identify a leak.

The schools in the area, Castlebay Lane Charter and Porter Ranch Community schools, will have monitoring started on Nov. 30, Cortines said. He said at this time, the schools will remain open as long as the school can “continue to maintain an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning while the gas leak is repaired.”

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