Southern California Gas Co. has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a case in which it faced a criminal charge associated with its handling of a massive gas leak in Porter Ranch, an affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles, last year.
The utility pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor count for failing to immediately report the gas leak to state officials as required by law when it occurred on Oct. 23, 2015. Instead, the company waited three days before alerting state emergency officials.
"This agreement ensures that Southern California Gas Co. is held accountable for its criminal actions for failing to immediately report the leak," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.
The gas leak caused about 8,000 families to leave their homes for months. Many displaced residents complained of headaches, nosebleeds and nausea. The leak wasn't capped until February 2016. It is reported to be the largest known release of climate-changing methane in U.S. history.