Official wishes air monitoring was better after gas leak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles County public health official says he wishes air pollution monitoring had been more comprehensive soon after a massive natural gas leak was reported in October.

Angelo Bellomo, deputy county director for health protection, said Wednesday that better testing was delayed in part because officials believed Southern California Gas Co. would plug its leaking well faster.

The 3-month old leak has been blamed for a variety of ailments and has driven thousands of residents from the Porter Ranch community.

Public agencies took nearly two months to begin measuring long-term health impacts from the cancer-causing chemical benzene and other compounds found in the air.

Before that equipment was in place, benzene was double normal levels in 15 spot tests, though officials say they don't expect any long-term health problems.