Sue Francis holds a sign while attending a public hearing before the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) regarding a proposed stipulated abatement order to stop a nearby massive natural gas leak, on January 16, 2016 in Granada Hills, near Porter Ranch, California.
David McNew—Getty Images
February 3, 2016 10:54 AM EST

Los Angeles County has filed criminal charges against the California gas company that has had a leak at one of is wells since October.

Prosecutors are charging Southern California Gas Co. with three misdemeanors for not reporting the leak shortly after it began, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced Tuesday. The company is being charged with a fourth misdemeanor count for allowing the leak to happen.

The leak, which is ongoing, has released 80,000 tons of methane gas into the atmosphere in the area around Aliso Canyon. Thousands of people in the nearby Porter Ranch community have left their homes to escape the gas, according to the BBC. Inhaling the gas can cause nausea, dizziness and other health problems.

The gas company faces up a fine of up to $25,000 for failing to report the leak and a fine of $1,000 per day for every day the leak has continued. The state of California is also suing the company for violating health and safety laws.


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