California calls gas leak a state of emergency

FILE - In this June 9, 2015, file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown meets with board members of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in Los Angeles. California will become the fifth state in the nation to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives using doctor-prescribed drugs. Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, announced, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, he has signed a bill approved by state lawmakers after an emotional and deeply personal debate. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (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.

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