LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday over a massive natural-gas leak that has been spewing fumes into a Los Angeles neighborhood for months.
In a statement, Brown said he acted based on the requests of local residents in the community of Porter Ranch and the “prolonged and continuing” nature of the gas blowout at the underground storage facility.
The well, owned by Southern California Gas Co., has been spewing up to 1,200 tons of methane daily, along with other gases. The leak was first reported in October.
The utility is paying to relocate thousands of households after residents complained that the stench has made them sick. They have reported nosebleeds, nausea 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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday evening, KCAL9’s Tom Wait spoke to noted environmental activist Erin Brockovich about the Governor’s declaration.
“I’m not sure what the delay was,” Brockovich said, “but I am glad to see it happen.”
She said there was no quick fix to the disaster.
“I always feel like the bearer of bad news,” she said, “I have to tell people Superman isn’t coming. But it is progress. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s an acknowledgement that they have a pending disaster.”
She spoke at a town hall at a church in West Hills.
Julia Roberts won the Oscar in 2000 for playing Erin Rrockovich in a movie of the same name.
SoCalGas said they’re hoping to have the leak capped by late February or late March.
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