Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Nancy Kaufman
Observer Staff Writer 

Porter Ranch: Another Aliso Canyon for Southern California Gas Company?

Another Methane Gas Release is Covered Up, say some local residents

 

September 22, 2017

Residents protesting possible release of methane at Porter Ranch, CA on Sept. 13, 2017

On September 13, 2017, activist groups Save Porter Ranch and Food and Water Watch hosted a rally, "Health Crisis Cover Up in North Valley! " The purpose of this event was to support Dr. Jeffrey Nordella, the only doctor helping Porter Ranch and San Fernando Valley residents cope with the toxic exposure from Aliso canyon," they said.

According to Save Porte Ranch's Facebook page, this sudden termination for Dr. Nordella could be a cover up, since he was the only doctor helping North Valley residents deal with illnesses believed to be related to the toxic chemicals released along with the methane.

It was October 2015, when one of the 115 wells at Aliso Canyon spewed out a record 109,000 metric tons of methane, the most massive leak in the nation's history. Over 800 residents were forced to temporarily evacuate and the methane continued to leak for four months until it was temporarily shut down in Feb 2016.

Nearly two years later, this past July 24th, residents and local activists gathered in Porter Ranch to protest the decision by state regulators (CPUC and DOGGR) to allow gas injections to resume at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The facility has since re-opened, after a less than 24-hour brief shut down, on July 29th of this year.

The rally to protest the firing of Dr. Nordella formed in the parking lot just outside of Quality Care Clinic (affiliate of SCOI).

Dr. Nordella, who has been treating patients exposed to toxins that were released as a result of the methane blow out,  was fired from his post as medical director of the Porter Ranch Quality Care Clinic without the required notification to his patients.

According to Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, "it's an attempt of a cover-up and a whitewash of the health crisis." This is because Dr. Nordella is about to come out with the results this fall of his study of the health effects of the Aliso Canyon methane blow out.  

Matt has referred to the conflict between Porter Ranch and SoCal Gas Company as  "health over wealth," and at the Sept 13th rally for Dr. Nordella, the protestors carried signs that read such things as "Shut it all down," "Boycott SCOI (southern California Orthopedic institute), "Aliso Canyon health cover up?, and  "Bring back Dr.Nordella."

A protester said, "I wake up with a headache. The fence line says 4 or 5 (monitors methane levels and higher than safety levels are two or under)"  

"Our fence line shows spikes, " the protester also says.

Dr. Nordella had been conducting a clinical health study involving a history and baseline physical exam and tracking patients' symptoms over time. He has about 100 patients involved in urine screening and hair screening.  The study of hair and urine samples is to investigate toxicity in people's bodies in relation to Aliso Canyon methane leak.

Nordella said, in LA Daily news this month, that "the biggest issue is what chemicals we don't know of." He also said that since different patients were exposed to different levels for different times, that it wouldn't be clear how people are affected unless researchers follow them for at least three to five years.

Save Porter Ranch and Food and Water Watch have posted on social media such as Facebook, how to help support Dr. Nordella. Besides showing up at the rally, the groups have also suggested that residents contact Michael Sawyer, CEO of SCOI, since Porter Ranch Quality Care is an affiliate of Southern California Orthopedic Institute.

According to Save Porter Ranch, Dr. Nordella's patients were not given the required notification after he was fired form his post as medical director.  The social media post claimed,  "It is completely unacceptable that SCOI has abandoned the communities surrounding porter ranch with the release of Dr.Nordella, since he is the single most credible advocate for the heath of the people impacted by the Aliso Canyon gas blow out. Porter Ranch Quality Care made the decision to drop the only non-orthopedic physician at the facility."

For the residents of Porter Ranch who have fallen ill, presumably as a result of the historical methane leak, Dr. Nordella has been a great help. Many of the community members are continuing to get sick and they cannot start over with another doctor. This could cause a tangible negative effect on their immediate health.

 

Dr. Nordella has made it clear that he will continue to care for his patients, even if it means that he will have to work out of a trailer.

Through out the sixteen-month period, from Oct 2015, till Feb 2016, when the Aliso Canyon gas storage field leak was finally plugged up, residents continued to report illnesses. According to the locals at the recent rally for Dr. Nordella, they still smell that "rotten egg" odor that indicates methane leak.

Locals are behind Dr. Nordella and many believe that his firing was a cover up, since he is about to reveal the results of his study.

Some of the symptoms that have been confirmed by a Los Angeles pubic health assessment, as a possible result of the Aliso Canyon blow out are, nosebleeds, headaches, dizziness, and rashes.

Some residents, however, continue to report symptoms similar to those experienced throughout the 16‐-week period that gases were being released from Well SS‐25; these symptoms include headaches, nasal congestion, sore throat, respiratory complaints, nausea, dizziness, skin rashes and nosebleeds. file:///Users/cityofangeles/Desktop/PublicHealthAssessment.pdf

Even though residents continue to report leaks an illnesses, Rodger R. Schwecke, Senior Vice President of Gas Transmission and Storage of SoCalGas claims that There have been no releases of gas associated with the pressure anomalies, and even the highest monitored pressures have been a fraction of the rated capability of the casing.  

Mr. Schwecke also says,

" we are communicating and sharing information regularly with DOGGR and the CPUC."

Grassroots organizers of Food and Water and Save Porter Ranch are hosting Dr. Nordella's North Valley Toxic Health Study Results at a Town Hall meeting Oct. 14th. Those who attend can find out what's been happening with North Valley residents' health and how it relates to the SoCal Gas blowout of Oct. 23rd 2015 as well as the other carcinogens and contamination from SoCal Gas prior to and since that blowout.

Dr. Nordella will also address his being suspiciously fired from Porter Ranch Quality Care, where he was the director for 8 years, just prior to these results being released.

Although the recent rally held at Porter Ranch Quality Care addressed the issues surrounding the recent firing of Dr. Nordella, he was not able to attend that event, but will certainly be at the Town Hall meeting in October.

For more information about how Save Porter Ranch and Food and Water Watch are collaborating to help the communities in the North Valley cope with the health issues that they believe are related the 2015 Aliso Canyon methane blow out, please visit the websites listed below.

https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/office-location/california-los-angeles

http://www.saveporterranch.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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