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California Utility to Pay $1.8 Billion to Settle Claims After Gas Leak

September 28, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
This Jan. 12, 2017, photo shows gas gathering plant on a hilltop at the Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon storage facility near the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Southern California Gas Company agreed to pay $1.8 billion this week to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of residents of the Aliso Canyon area who were forced from their homes by a 2015 explosion and leak at a natural gas storage facility.

The lawsuit accused the Los Angeles-based utility of a series of safety lapses that resulted in the uncontrolled release of nearly 100,000 tons of methane and other toxic substances into the atmosphere for 118 days.

It was the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history and one that helped propel state lawmakers toward policies that require eventually eliminating fossil fuels from California’s energy supply.

Southern California Gas denied many of the safety and fraud allegations against it but still agreed to enhanced safety protocols. The settlement money will be distributed by an independent, neutral allocator.

“Our goal has always been obtaining justice for the men, women and children who were failed by SoCalGas throughout every turn of this catastrophe,” Brian Panish, attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

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