Los Angeles County prosecutors filed misdemeanor criminal charges against Southern California Gas Co. Tuesday for allegedly failing to immediately report the Porter Ranch gas leak to state authorities.
“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.
“We will do everything we can as prosecutors to help ensure that the Aliso Canyon facility is brought into compliance,” she said. “I believe we can best serve our community using the sanctions available through a criminal conviction to prevent similar public health threats in the future.”
The company was charged with three counts of failing to report the release of hazardous materials from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26, and one count of discharging air contaminants, beginning Oct. 23 and continuing through Tuesday. The charges are all misdemeanors.
If convicted, the company could be fined up to $25,000 a day for each day it failed to notify the state Office of Emergency Services about the leak. It could be fined up to $1,000 per day for air pollution violations, prosecutors said.
Arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 17 in Santa Clarita.
— Wire reports
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