A major pollution source even before the blow-out, Aliso Canyon exposed residents in the region to benzene spikes, high ongoing odorant releases, hydrogen sulfide at levels far above average urban levels, and many other contaminants of concern. More than 8,000 households were evacuated and relocated, with residents reporting multiple symptoms, including headaches, nosebleeds, eye irritation, and nausea. Contaminated house dust became a contentious issue. Measurement of airborne contaminants during the leak was intermittent and contained major gaps. The Aliso Canyon facility reopened on July 31, 2017. Four months later, a gasket failure led to a methane leak, and at least 15 residents noticed foul odors. As of early 2018, more than two years after the original blow-out, the Aliso Canyon facility operates at only 28 percent of its storage capacity, and the community still awaits the initiation of a mandated health study, which, independent researchers say, must include attention to sub-chronic, cumulative exposures.
The symptoms experienced around this facility are reminiscent of the complaints of communities living alongside fracking wells. ‘Natural’ gas is the common factor, it is clearly not healthy to leak or vent gas to the atmosphere when it causes these immediate symptoms. It is of course very damaging in terms of Climate Change. Also of note is the incomplete study of this event with limited and delayed measurement of air pollutants.