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Two Months Later, Arvin Residents Still Forced From Homes After Major Gas Leak

May 13, 2014

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

What would you do if an underground gas pipeline from a nearby oilfield ruptured outside your home, forcing you to leave your house for over a month? And what if air samples released by the county showed that high levels of benzene and naphthalene were found in air samples taken at the homes?

Jose Gurrola Jr.

That’s exactly what over 30 residents in the Kern County community of Arvin are facing right now.

While the gas leak has been stopped, the residents are still forced out of their homes, and now are concerned about possible exposure to hazardous chemicals. Arvin city council member Jose Gurrolloa Jr, who lives near the evacuation area, joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the city’s response, and concerns about the health of local residents. 

“Southern California Gas was doing a routine inspection and us neighbors we saw the gas company doing a lot of work for about a week and half after that they realized there was a gas and leak and they determined it wasn’t theirs and so they contacted the city," Gurrola says. "They basically said there is a leak; we’ve been working for a week and half. It’s not our fault, you guys take over.”

Within an hour of the leak being found and an evacuation for the homes affected was put into place, but that was two months ago. 

“At first the risk was the level of explosiveness and now what’s being determined for the residents to get back home are the levels of the types of gases that are there and how they affect your health," Gurrola says. 

Until the levels go down those Arvin residents affected are being put up in apartments in south Bakersfield and are bussed to the municipality for school, supplies and work.