Until late last year, Laura Gideon’s family lived in Porter Ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles. “We didn’t ever want to leave,” Gideon told the Associated Press. It’s “a nice gated community.”
What uprooted them from one of LA’s wealthiest pockets? They became climate refugees when the nearby Aliso Canyon natural gas storage well sprang a nasty leak.
Clouds of gas have billowed from the faulty well, which lacked a subsurface shutoff valve, for three and a half months. After inhaling nonstop plumes of methane, benzene, and other toxic chemicals, local residents began to suffer nausea, vomiting, headaches, and nosebleeds. The disaster has also smacked local businesses hard and eroded real estate values.
Erin Brockovich, the activist and legal researcher made famous by an Academy-award winning film depicting her against-all-odds victory against another California utility, lives only 30 miles away. Now working with a law firm to help the locals file claims, she calls the Aliso Canyon leak a “BP oil spill, just on land” — because of its magnitude, duration, and climate impact.