Brown Declares State of Emergency Over Porter Ranch Gas Leak

A SoCalGas worker at the company's Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, where a massive leak has been spewing natural gas into the air since October.

A SoCalGas worker at the company's Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, where a massive leak has been spewing natural gas into the air since October. (Courtesy SoCalGas)

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday over a massive natural gas leak that has been spewing fumes into the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch for months.

In a statement, Brown said he acted based on the requests of Porter Ranch residents and the “prolonged and continuing” nature of the gas blowout.

The well, at SoCalGas’ nearby Aliso Canyon underground storage facility, has been spewing up to 1,200 tons of methane daily, along with other gases. The leak was first reported in October.

SoCalGas is paying to relocate thousands of households after residents complained that the gases were making them sick. They say they have suffered nosebleeds, nausea, headaches and other ailments.

Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles school board already have declared the crisis a state of emergency, moving students out of two schools in the neighborhood.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit against SoCalGas in December, claiming the ongoing leak is worsening climate change by emitting the same amount of greenhouse gas in one hour as 200,000 cars running for one year.

Madison Zimmitti (R) a third-grader at Castlebay Charter Elementary School, stopped attending classes after intense fumes from the gas leak made her sick, Madison’s mother says.
Madison Zimmitti (R) a third-grader at Castlebay Charter Elementary School, stopped attending classes after intense fumes from the gas leak made her sick, Madison’s mother says. (Chris Richard/KQED)

Resident Matt Pakucko, the head of a community group that has been pushing for the state declaration, said he cried when he heard about the governor’s order.

Pakucko, speaking from a hotel where the gas company had moved him and his girlfriend, said he faced some doubts from his community about pressing the governor to declare an emergency. He said he had his own concerns that Brown might not take strong enough action, but was pleased in the end.

“I’m not worried about being validated or vindicated, but that people get what they need,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve been pushing for.”

The governor’s move, among other measures, directs efforts by California agencies in stopping the leak, and it orders emergency regulations for other gas storage facilities throughout the state.

The Aliso Canyon site is one of the country’s largest underground natural gas storage facilities and can hold enough natural gas to fuel Southern California for a month.

Brown toured the site of the leak for the first time earlier this week. The governor previously has resisted local calls for a state declaration, saying he wanted to make sure the utility, rather than the state, bore the financial cost.

Brown Declares State of Emergency Over Porter Ranch Gas Leak 8 January,2016David Marks

  • solodoctor

    FINALLY, our Governor who claims to be environmentally conscious is doing something about this situation! It is way overdue.

  • Gov. Brown was sought out in Paris during last month’s UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE by which time the infra-red film and early analysis of a lack of contingency plan by SoCal (BP Gulf of Mexico blow-out flash-back to Halliburton desperately plugging the underwater runaway oil volcano with Golf Balls) had been discussed back in his state of California for 2 1/2 months. Given Gov. Brown’s perpetual campaign platforms including transparency in government his “mum’s the word” silence in Paris spoke volumes.

    Except for local L.A. area broadcast outlets and especially the alternative newspaper the LA WEEKLY no national U.S. or even CBCCanadian media have treated this Fukushima of GAS LEAKS as the emergency it is. SoCal Gas, the profit-maximizing private investor-serving hydraulic fracturing (“FRACKING”) and energy storage company has not even had to spend money on PR since no national news media treated this as a 2 month running emergency on the order of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil platform spill and Fukushima’s nuclear post-tsunami ongoing disaster (also dropped from mass media coverage in corporate-captured news media).

    For the best broadcast coverage to date, treating this news with the gravitas it deserves, albeit one month late, search and see the online video archive of last month’s DEMOCRACY NOW co-hosted & co-produced by a real journalist AMY GOODMAN with her interview of previous Southern California Energy Profiteering and Massive Evacuation-causing cover-up whistle-blower ERIN BROCKOVICH. Looks like until Hollywood gets around to making a movie about this ongoing cover-up we’ll not get any high paid newscaster to ask: What was SoCal’s blue-print for prompt remediation of a gas-line blow-out? Shouldn’t every Environmental Protection-permitted energy company business model be able to demonstrate their contingency plans prior to setting up?

    Same ???’s for BP’s underwater drilling blow-out in the Gulf; Fukushima risking nuclear melt-down in a high-risk tsunami zone yet still allowing the sale of its Nuclear Energy provider for Tokyo, TEPCO to be taken over by private profit maximizers who had to be nationalized after the disaster because it could not cover the cost of relocating an entire coastal region and completing the cordoning of nuclear contamination into the Pacific and agricultural areas much less the ongoing clean-up.

    Oh, one more question for U.S.? Shouldn’t massively profitable news broadcasters owned by GE, WHO BRINGS GOOD THINGS TO LIGHT, occasionally shine a light on the LESS THAN GOOD THINGS? Like long since the sale of GE and Westinghouse’s Commercial Nuclear Reactor construction and servicing businesses to Toshiba (now teetering on bankruptcy) and Hitachi, which in itself was barely considered NEWSWORTHY, mightn’t they be expected to commit resources and exposure to uncovering the social costs buried in these BIG BUSINESS DEALS with more amplification, depth and persistence than anyone can find in the public online news industry’s archives?

    Added irony: USC’s ANNENBERG SCHOOL FOR COMMUNICATION & JOURNALISM is among the best-endowed and financed in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (C) Mitch Ritter
    Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
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