A lawyer says a leaking natural gas well beneath a Los Angeles neighborhood lacks a working safety valve that could stop the release of fumes.

Attorney Brian Panish, who represents displaced residents who are suing over the months-long leak, says the valve might not have prevented the leak but could have stopped the flow of fumes.

The Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1PaldxB) reported Monday that Southern California Gas Co. confirmed that its well at Porter Ranch did not have the deep subsurface valve.

Company spokeswoman Melissa Bailey says such a valve is not required by law.

Attorneys for residents say the company failed to replace the safety valve when it was removed in 1979.

The leak has forced the relocation of several thousand residents who say the stench made them sick


Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/