Twenty-two additional firefighters have joined the lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company (“SoCalGas”), bringing the total number of firefighters suing SoCalGas to fifty-one.
The lawsuit, first filed in October of 2018, alleges that SoCalGas knowingly exposed these firefighters to hazardous levels of toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde. The firefighters suffered this toxic exposure when they bravely and willingly risked their lives to protect the Porter Ranch, CA community after the massive Aliso Canyon gas well blowout – the largest natural gas leak in US history.
The responding firefighters at Station 28 in Porter Ranch (LAFD) requested air purifiers from SoCalGas to protect themselves from the chemicals in the gas. In response, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) and SoCalGas assured the LAFD that its leaking gas was safe and would cause no health impacts. However, SoCalGas later issued a notice in August of 2018 stating that its natural gas contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer.
The January 2019 complaint, adding twenty-two firefighters to the lawsuit, highlights how SoCalGas and DPH misrepresented the findings of its benzene testing in an attempt to bury the information on its toxicity levels. DPH focused on using a higher standard for acute, one-hour benzene exposure to try and downplay the risk of chronic exposure to benzene. Now, these brave firefighters are suffering from nosebleeds, migraines, skin rashes, dizziness, sleeping and breathing difficulties, and cancer.
“The number of firefighters SoCalGas put at risk is staggering,” said attorney R. Rex Parris. “Over four dozen men and women who willingly risk their lives every day to keep us safe were knowingly placed in a danger zone without any ability to properly protect themselves and inform the public. This is borderline criminal behavior in my opinion.”