SOMETHING STINKS: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joins Southern California Gas Company officials as attempts continue to stem the leak at a gas well in the company’s Aliso Canyon facility.
SOMETHING STINKS: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joins Southern California Gas Company officials as attempts continue to stem the leak at a gas well in the company’s Aliso Canyon facility. IRFAN KHAN/EPA

Gas company charged over leak that forces thousands to leave

A GAS leak that has caused thousands of families to relocate and two schools to move students to other campuses has led to criminal misdemeanour charges against its operator.

Los Angeles County prosecutors took action yesterday against Southern California Gas Co over the ongoing leak in a deep underground well at the utility's Aliso Canyon facility.

Earlier in the day, California Attorney-General Kamala Harris announced her office had joined a civil action filed by the county and city of Los Angeles against the company.

The company is accused of failing to report the release of hazardous materials from October 23-26 last year and discharging air contaminants from October 23 to the present.

Efforts to plug the well have so far been unsuccessful.

An estimated 80,000 tonnes of methane has been released into the atmos-phere, forcing relocation of more than 4400 households to hotels and temporary housing, with a further 1200 in the process of moving.

"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," Ms Harris said in a statement.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month over the leak.


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