Southern pleads not guilty in LA gas leak
LOS ANGELES, February 18, 2016 – Southern California Gas pleaded not guilty to charges pertaining to the gas leak in Los Angeles, the US natural gas provider and prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The charges include three counts for failing to report the leak and one count for polluting hazardous gas. If convicted, the company would pay up to USD 1,000 per day for discharge of contaminants and up to USD 50,000 per day for failing to notify emergency services of the problem.
Although the division of US gas holdings company Sempra Energy says it discovered the leak on October 23, 2015, the state office wasn’t notified until three days later.
“We believe that we have operated the Aliso Canyon storage facility in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” said Mike Mizrahi, a company spokesperson. “Further, when we discovered the leak, we made prompt notifications to multiple agencies.” He added that criminal prosecution was unnecessary.
The Aliso Canyon leak was identified on October 23 and at its peak spilled almost 60 tonnes of methane per hour into the air. Nearly 50,000 residents of Porter Ranch were forced out of their homes due to health risks. The gas line was reported to be plugged on February 11, and locals are still waiting on governmental agency California Air Resource Board to determine that the leak is actually plugged.
For more news and features on the oil and gas year, click here.