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Utility Understated Levels Of Cancer-Causing Chemical

Michael Owen Baker / AP

Porter Ranch Estates sit at the foothills near a Southern California Gas Co. gas well that has been leaking methane daily near the community Porter Ranch, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016.

Michael Owen Baker / AP

(AP) - The utility whose leaking natural gas well has driven thousands of Los Angeles residents from their homes says it understated the number of times airborne levels of benzene have spiked over the past three months.

Benzene is a chemical in natural gas that is known to cause cancer.

Southern California Gas Co. said Thursday that 14 air samples over nine days found levels of benzene that are at least double the amount that regional regulators consider typical.

The company previously said just two air samples briefly showed elevated levels of the substance.

The company says the error was an oversight, but it stands by its conclusion that none of the findings pose a health risk to the community.