05:47 GMT30 November 2020
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    In what is being called the worst environmental disaster since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, methane gas has been uncontrollably jetting into the atmosphere in California at about 1200 tons every day since October 2015.

    Now, the family of an elderly woman who lived close to the  leak and recently succumbed to lung cancer is suing the Southern California Gas Company for wrongful death.

    Zelda Rothman, 79, died January 25, approximately three months after the leak began. She lived about three miles from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field, the site of the ongoing leak. Her family claims she had been leading an active, normal life, despite having stage 4 lung cancer.

    "She was going on cruises, and going out to lunch with friends and driving," the lawyer for the family, Scott Glovsky, said on Thursday.

    The lawsuit claims that by December 2015, following the leak, she required round-the-clock oxygen as her condition worsened.

    "We're not claiming the gas company caused (Rothman's) cancer," Glovsky detailed, "we're claiming they essentially poisoned her and hastened her death and destroyed the quality of her life in the time she had left."

    Aliso Canyon Storage Facility Project
    © AP Photo / Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News
    The massive gas leak is spewing some 110,000 pounds of highly flammable and toxic methane gas per hour from a cold-war-era storage facility. Currently 1,700 homes have been evacuated. The Southern California Gas Company estimates that they will not be able to stop the leak until “late February or late March."

    “It’s worth noting that the type of gas involved in this leak is part of what makes it so sinister. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to climate change impact,” Melissa Cronin reported for Motherboard in December.There have been over 20 lawsuits filed over the leak, along with civil claims. The Rothman family is seeking unspecified damages.


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    Methane Leak, Lawsuit, Southern California Gas Company, California, Los Angeles, Aliso Canyon
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