With the massive natural-gas leak continuing the send fumes into a Los Angeles neighborhood, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday.
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 gushing up to 1,200 tons of methane daily, along with other gases. The leak ended up reported in October.
The utility is paying to relocate thousands of households after residents complained 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 an 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.
The massive leak amounts to about a quarter of the state’s total output of climate-changing methane. The 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 resisted local calls for a state declaration, saying he wanted to make sure the utility, rather than the state, bore the financial cost.
Previously Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich proposed the state of emergency saying “This action will seek state and federal assistance for our residents in the Porter Ranch area with additional air monitoring and help with efforts to cap the well. The residents … have suffered for more than 50 days since the gas leak was discovered.”