LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The PARRIS Law Firm filed a lawsuit today against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) over its prolonged cover-up of a massive gas leak at LADWP's Valley Generating Station in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. LADWP has known about the leak for years, yet failed to publicly notify anyone of their potential exposure to its dangerous, leaking gas.
For at least three years, the residents of Sun Valley, Pacoima and surrounding areas which are largely LatinX and African American have been unknowingly exposed to toxic gas that has caused severe and persistent health effects for these residents.
"Our seniors, our kids, the families we serve all live, work, play, and go to school in areas that neighbor the Valley Generating Station," said Ruben Rodriguez, Executive Director of Pueblo y Salud, one of the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit. Rodriguez continued, "It's a highly populated area and still no one warned us. Our families had no idea that the air they were breathing was toxic. There's no excuse for that."
According to the complaint, LADWP knew about the leak for at least three years yet failed to stop it or alert the thousands of residents in the surrounding area about it. Additionally, LADWP only began efforts to repair the leak when it found out JPL was going to disclose its magnitude. Only then, were residents told about being exposed to toxic chemicals including methane, benzene, and other toxic chemical byproducts.
"LADWP admitted that it made a cold, calculated decision that the 'local folks' had to make the 'sacrifice.' They made an informed choice that the lives of the largely working class people of color residents of Sun Valley and Pacoima were not worth raising an alarm," said attorney R. Rex. Parris of the PARRIS Law Firm. "They knew for years about this leak, why did the utility not see fit to warn families sooner? There was no sense of urgency or concern," Parris added.
According to the complaint, LADWP's General Manager and Chief Engineer, Marty Adams, acknowledged that the health of the people in the communities surrounding the Valley Generating Station could be sacrificed in support of the overall efforts of the City. "For LADWP to play God with people's lives is not only reprehensible, but also criminal," said attorney Sylvia Torres-Guillén of the PARRIS Law Firm. "Through this lawsuit, LADWP must be held accountable for its shameful actions," Torres-Guillén added.
Residents listed in the complaint alleged their resulting health and medical conditions included seizures, dizziness, shortness of breath, impaired mental faculties (such as unexplained confusion) and more. One woman suffered seizures when she moved into the area, then none after she left. Another young woman began suffering seizures and died as a result. These health impacts have been felt by young and old alike.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
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