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Montebello

October 03, 1985

A natural gas leak that occurred at an observation well in the Southern California Gas Co.'s underground storage area has prompted a group of residents to call for a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Schurr High School auditorium, 820 N. Wilcox Ave., Montebello.

The leak, which occurred at 633 N. Taylor Ave. on Sept. 27, was caused by a faulty gasket in the well, according to Robert Salmon, manager of the utility's Southeast Division. The observation well consists of a pipe inserted into the ground that is equipped to detect leaks and monitor gas pressure, he said.

The gas did not reach explosive levels, Salmon said, because the amount escaping was minute and quickly dissipated into the atmosphere. Had there been a high level of gas leaking, he said, a valve at ground level would have shut off the well.

The gas storage field is a 1.5-square-mile area underneath the northeastern side of the city and contains wells which were once part of an oil field. Some of the wells are now used to inject, withdraw or monitor natural gas. In some cases, deteriorating wells have provided an escape path for the gas which has made its way to the surface, with leaks occurring since 1977.

Charging that their health and lives are endangered by the underground storage system, Montebello residents last December sued the gas company. The number of people who joined the suit now totals 200.

Some of the plaintiffs have organized next Wednesday's meeting to discuss the problems they say the leaks have created and to form an association of homeowners and renters concerned about the underground gas storage.

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