California Attorney General Files Charges Over L.A.’s Natural Gas Leak

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a meet and greet, Sunday, Jan 10, 2016, at Building and Construction Trades Council in Los Angeles.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she has filed a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company, alleging the company failed to report the massive methane leak near Los Angeles in a timely manner.

The natural gas, which has been treated with an odorant called mercaptan, is making local residents sick. Since the leak began in October, some 3,000 families have been evacuated from the Porter Ranch neighborhood, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

“The impact of this unprecedented gas leak is devastating to families in our state, our environment, and our efforts to combat global warming. Southern California Gas Company must be held accountable,” Harris said in a statement. “This gas leak has caused significant damage to the Porter Ranch community as well as our statewide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the impacts of climate change.”

So far, the storage well has released more than 91,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. The California Public Utilities Commission was notified of the leak two days after it was discovered, a representative said recently at a public hearing.

The suit, which also alleges that SoCalGas has failed to control the leak in a timely manner, claims the company has violated California’s health and safety laws. Harris is acting independently as Attorney General as well as on behalf of the California Air Resources Board.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Fueur filed a suit in December. In addition, residents of Porter Ranch have joined in a class action suit against SoCalGas.