San Fernando Valley residents file class-action lawsuit against LADWP over Sun Valley gas leak – Daily News
The neighbors of four communities in the San Fernando Valley filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Energy. They alleged that information about the Valley Generating Station in the Sun Valley and a number of gas leaks had been withheld, putting nearby communities at risk.
The class action lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Supreme Court on Tuesday, February 2, alleged that the DWP “deliberately neglected the facility, admitting that it was a sacrifice for the health and well-being of its neighbors, members of the predominantly Latin American and Latin American, African American Communities ”in Sun Valley, Pacoima, Shadow Hills and Arleta.
A number of gas leaks from 2017 to 2020 were detected by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab during research drone flights over the Valley Generating Station last year. This was part of the agency’s collaboration with the state on an independent study of methane emissions.
When JPL informed DWP of the emissions back in August, its commission began asking questions about why the public had not been notified.
The complaint states that DWP is deliberately neglecting the facility and causing the leak to affect nearby residents who have been exposed to toxins and foul odors.
DWP said in a statement that it has not yet examined the litigation it has filed and has not yet received a response.
The utility completed “repairs on two compressors in its Valley Generating Station identified as a source of methane emissions and completed in December 2020 with custom seals. The leak has stopped completely, ”said a DWP statement on its website.
The agency took the compressors offline in August, added the statement, and carried out emergency and temporary repairs in September to reduce emissions by 95%.
“Although the emission levels determined before the repairs are considered very low compared to numerous other emission sources, we know that neighbors and residents in the northeast valley are affected by a leak in any amount,” the statement said. “We have taken the necessary steps to remedy this and will continue to be vigilant when repairs are needed and the compressors and other associated equipment are monitored to ensure early detection of problems.”
Tuesday’s lawsuit follows another complaint filed in December by nine residents and a nonprofit against DWP and its current and former directors Marty Adams and David Wright. She claimed the utility “knowingly, intentionally and / or negligently harmed the residents of the San Fernando Valley” by allowing the Valley Generating Station to release gas.
The 67-year-old Valley Generation Plant runs on natural gas, supplies 460,000 residents with electricity and, according to official figures, will become an important power generator in LA during peak load times.
DWP officials publicly admitted in September that they had not informed the public of a methane leak at their facility, promising to fix the leak, improve methane monitoring and become more transparent about possible accidents.
Lawyers representing neighbors said the city of Los Angles sued Southern California Gas Co. over the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak and was aware of the risk of exposure to methane gas. Although DWP was aware of the risk of a gas leak, it waited 1,085 days before alerting the public that the Valley Generating Station had been deflating the complaint.
Sylvia Torres-Guillen, a lawyer with the PARRIS law firm, did not provide a specific number but said the plaintiffs are seeking criminal and exemplary damages.
The PARRIS law firm is also representing thousands of residents in a case against Southern California Gas Co. for their gas leak in 2015.
Ruben Rodriguez, executive director of Pueblo y Salud Inc., said many people in the community were experiencing symptoms without knowing why. Many residents are not insured and cannot be treated appropriately.
“Existing health inequalities are exacerbated by these types of measures that would be preventable,” he said. “That situation wouldn’t happen in Beverly Hills, and it wouldn’t happen in Los Feliz.”
The lawsuit states that DWP knew about the dangers of the gas and “remained silent”, “deliberately disregarding the health and safety of residents.”
A DWP manager told the agency’s board last year that the communities around the Valley Generating Station are “making a sacrifice to support the city’s overall efforts,” the complaint said.