LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday over a massive natural-gas leak that has been spewing methane and other gases into a Los Angeles neighborhood for months, sickening residents and forcing thousands to evacuate.
In a statement, Brown said he acted based on the requests of people 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 climate-changing methane daily, along with other gases, since it was first reported in October.
It will be months before workers can stem the leak, experts say.
Along with other measures underway, Brown told the gas company to come up with backup plans in case efforts to close the blowout fail and ordered emergency regulations for other gas-storage facilities throughout the state.
The utility is paying to relocate thousands of households after residents complained of nosebleeds, nausea and other ailments from the fumes.
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 gas leak is “one of the most devastating environmental disasters in the history of California,” Los Angeles Councilman Mitchell Englander said Wednesday.
Englander is one of a growing number of local officials and community members who urged the governor to act. Resident Matt Pakucko is another. He leads a community group that has been pushing for the state declaration and said he cried when he heard about the order.