The Latest: Utility says it understated carcinogen levels

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2016 5:08 PM
The Latest: Utility says it understated carcinogen levels

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest on a natural gas leak in a Los Angeles neighborhood (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

The utility whose leaking natural gas well has driven thousands of Los Angeles residents from their homes says it understated the number of times airborne levels of benzene have spiked over the past three months.

Benzene is a chemical in natural gas that is known to cause cancer.

Southern California Gas Co. said Thursday that 14 air samples over nine days found levels of benzene that are at least double the amount that regional regulators consider typical.

The company previously said just two air samples briefly showed elevated levels of the substance.

The company says the error was an oversight, but it stands by its conclusion that none of the findings pose a health risk to the community.

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11:58 a.m.

The utility whose leaking natural gas well has driven thousands of Los Angeles residents from their homes appears to have publicly understated the number of times airborne levels of benzene have spiked over the past three months.

Benzene is a chemical in natural gas that is known to cause cancer.

In trying to reassure the public there's no long-term health risk from the leak, Southern California Gas Co. has said that just two air samples briefly showed elevated concentrations of the substance.

But a closer look at its online data shows that a dozen samples contained at least twice the amount of benzene that Southern California regulators consider the normal background level.

The company has no immediate explanation for the discrepancy. But it appears that SoCalGas relies on a different background level than regulators do.