LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A Southern California Gas Co. shareholder has filed suit against the board of directors of its parent company, alleging it failed to take steps to avoid the natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon.
The lawsuit — filed Wednesday, Feb. 24, in Los Angeles Superior Court by Rhoda Kanter — is against Sempra Energy directors Debra Reed, Alan Boeckmann, James Brocksmith, Kathleen Brown, Pablo Ferrero, William Jones, William Ouchi, William Rusnack, William Rutledge, Lynn Schenk, Jack Taylor and James Yardley.
The suit alleges the directors put their interests ahead of those of the shareholders and seeks unspecified damages.
“As directors of the company, each of the director defendants was well aware of their … duties to ensure Sempra’s SoCalGas operated in a safe manner,” the suit states.
“Nevertheless, they failed to ensure that Aliso Canyon was operated and maintained properly to prevent leaks of noxious odors, hazardous gases, chemicals, pollutants and contaminants into the air causing health and safety problems.”
A Sempra Energy representative said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has compared the gas leak to the BP oil spill that occurred that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, according to the suit.
In addition to numerous civil suits filed by residents of Porter Ranch and other areas near the gas leak, District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed four misdemeanor criminal charges against the Gas Co., accusing it of releasing air contaminants and neglecting to report the release of hazardous materials until three days after the leak began Oct. 23. The leak was permanently sealed on Feb. 18.
The charges could result in a maximum fine of $25,000 a day for each day the leak went unreported, and $1,000 a day for each day the well has polluted the air. Some 6,000 families have been displaced from their homes.