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Freaky Infrared Video Possibly Shows Massive Gas Leak Billowing Over Hillside

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Hundreds of Porter Ranch residents—many of whom have said they've been sickened by the fumes from a massive and ongoing gas leak discovered over a month ago—watched a disturbing infrared video of what appears to be a plume of gas billowing over a nearby hillside.

The mostly black-and-white video (which bears quite a resemblance to a horror movie) was shown to a group of residents in a Granada Hills meeting on Tuesday evening that was led by a group of lawyers who are suing the Southern California Gas Company over the methane gas leak in Aliso Canyon that has spread to neighboring Porter Ranch, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The lawyers told the group that the infrared video was shot using a Gasfinder 320, a camera that state regulators use to find methane leaks, CBS L.A. reports. "It's a $100,000 camera," attorney R. Rex Parris, said. "It's designed specifically to design the gases. And no it's not fog, it's not a cloud. It's poison gases."

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However, a professor of hydrocarbons at the University of Southern California said that the plume in the video could be methane gas, but also other elements or fog.

A recent report by California Air Resources Board found that the gas at SoCalGas' Aliso Canyon facility is leaking at a whopping 50,000 kilograms per hour. To give you an idea of just how massive this is, the leak—between the date of discovery on Oct. 23 to Nov. 20— account for a quarter of the state's emissions.

Some residents have said that not only is the rotten egg smell noxious, but that the gas is causing headaches, nausea, dizziness and nosebleeds. SoCalGas has had to relocate more than 700 Porter Ranch area families to hotels, and they are still reviewing requests from 2,000 more families, KPCC reports.

The lawyers who organized Tuesday night's meeting filed a class action lawsuit against the gas company last week, but that's not the least of the company's troubles. L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer announced on Monday the city would also be suing SoCalGas over the oversight in how it handled the noxious gas leak, according to the L.A. Times. The lawsuit claims that the gas company not only didn't report the leak at its Aliso Canyon facility, but was also not prepared in stopping the leak. The gases spread to Porter Ranch, making the area "unlivable."

SoCalGas spokesman Javier Mendoza said last week that the company started drilling the concrete-laden well at the facility to get access to it, but that operation failed. It could take several more months.

In response to the city's lawsuit, Mendoza told the Times, "We understand the leak has created concerns, heightened awareness and public urgency. SoCalGas has the same urgency, and our highest priority is to safely stop the leak as quickly as safety will allow, support the affected customers and reduce the amount of natural gas emitting into the environment during this unfortunate situation."

He also said since it's hard to be able to measure how much the gas the leak has emitted, the estimates right now are "premature and speculative."

The L.A. County Public Health Department told KPCC that there are low short term risks from the methane gas because it rises to the atmosphere, but if this keeps continuing, trace levels of toxic emissions in the methane could cause long term health problems.

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