SoCal air quality district files $25M lawsuit against utility over Porter Ranch gas leak

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the SoCal Gas Company, seeking penalties that could be more than $25 million for the ongoing gas leak.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Southern California Gas Company, seeking penalties that could be more than $25 million for the ongoing gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood.

The complaint filed against the utility claims it created a public nuisance and that people were harmed because of the gas leak that has sickened thousands of residents in the affluent neighborhood.

MORE: Porter Ranch residents angry over failure to shut down gas leak facility

AQMD said it has received more than 2,000 complaints from residents about the smell from the leak and health concerns over the chemicals being released into the air.

In the complaint, the district said the leak is a public nuisance and SoCal Gas should be held liable, which could mean up to $250,000 in civil penalties for each day of the leak if the lawsuit ends in the district's favor. The penalties come out to almost $25 million to date and could surpass that amount as the leak continues.

According to SoCal Gas, a relief well designed to divert the leaking gas will not be completed until as early as February.

On Saturday, the district ordered the utility to permanently close and seal the well. It also ordered SoCal Gas to pay for an independent health study for Porter Ranch residents and inspect all 115 wells at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility to prevent any future leaks.

The leak was first reported on Oct. 23 and since then thousands of people relocated from their homes, schools relocated students and businesses are being impacted by the loss of customers.

Porter Ranch residents also filed a class action lawsuit against SoCal Gas and its parent company Sempra Energy on Thursday. The complaint claims the utility was negligent in preventing the leak.

On Wednesday morning, Granada Hills Charter School began received shipments for portable air purifiers. The school will receive more than 200 purifiers for its main and satellite campuses. The purifiers were placed in every classroom and office used by students, teachers and staff.

Officials said the charter school is one of dozens of campuses along with thousands of homes that will receive the purifiers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newslawsuithealthenvironmentgas leakgas fumesPorter RanchSan Fernando ValleyLos Angeles County
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