Tag Archives: porter ranch

L.A. prosecutors file criminal charges in methane leak near Los Angeles


Los Angeles prosecutors filed criminal charges against the Southern California Gas company on Tuesday over a huge methane leak near the city that has forced thousands of residents from their homes since October.

The four misdemeanor charges accuse SoCalGas, a division of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, of failing to report the release of hazardous materials following the underground pipeline rupture and discharging air contaminants.

“While we recognize that neither the criminal charges nor the civil lawsuits will offer the residents of Los Angeles County a complete solution, it is important that Southern California Gas Co. be held responsible for its criminal actions,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a written statement.

Lacey’s move came on the same day that California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Southern California Gas Co, accusing the utility of violating state health and safety laws by failing to promptly control the escaping gas and report the leak to authorities.

The lawsuit also cites environmental damage caused by the uncontrolled release of 80,000 metric tons of methane, the prime component of natural gas and a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The leak stems from an underground pipeline rupture at the company’s 3,600-acre (1,457-hectare) Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. The largest such leak ever in California, at its height it accounted for a fourth of all methane emissions statewide.

The lawsuit amends a civil complaint brought in December by the Los Angeles city attorney and later joined by Los Angeles County. It seeks civil penalties and court orders requiring the utility to immediately take all steps necessary to mitigate the leak, repair the damage and prevent future discharges.

Several attempts to halt the methane release have failed, but the company said it hopes to plug the leak by the end of the month through a relief well.

Read Full – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-methane-lawsuit-idUSKCN0VB25M

Erin Brockovich appeals to Porter Ranch residents as law firms push gas leak suits

Alice Walton and Louis Sahagun Contact Reporters

Movie-famous activist Erin Brockovich stood in front of 400 Porter Ranch residents on a recent weeknight and told a disturbing personal story.

“When I first came to Porter Ranch I couldn’t believe it,” she said of her visit to the community closest to Southern California Gas Co.’s leaking well. “I was in somebody’s house and within 10 minutes, I started feeling kind of dizzy.”

She said she saw a doctor who told her she “had what they called a chemically induced kind of bronchitis.”

The message was clear. If Brockovich, 55, became ill after just 10 minutes, Southern California Gas Co.’s ruptured well must be harming anyone who breathes the fumes even for a short time — and for that, the victims should get compensation. Brockovich and the law firm she was advocating for, Weitz & Luxenberg, invited the residents to join their lawsuits against the gas company.

Across the region, other law firms are holding similar meetings and running advertising campaigns using a mix of dire warnings about health risks and reduced property values, promises of money and practical advice to try to persuade aggrieved Porter Ranch families to join lawsuits.

Since the leak began at the Aliso Canyon well nearly three months ago, at least 25 lawsuits have been filed seeking damages from the utility and its parent firm, Sempra Energy. The attorneys say their take could range from almost nothing to more than one-third of the awards, depending on the outcome of the cases.

A majority of the lawsuits have been filed by residents of Porter Ranch, a community of 30,000 people in the rolling hills of the north San Fernando Valley. The legal actions claim negligence, hazardous activity, nuisance and trespass and seek compensation for emotional and physical injuries, as well as for diminished property values.

Read Full Article – http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-porter-ranch-lawyers-20160119-story.html