Sep 19, 2016
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office settled charges against SoCal Gas over the massive gas leak in Porter Ranch. SoCal will pay four million dollars.
This is not even a slap on the wrist. SoCal Gas’s parent company, Sempra Energy, is the largest natural gas utility in the U.S., and it reported more than 10 billion dollars revenue in 2015. So this “fine” Sempra has to pay for poisoning thousands of residents for four months is less than one-thousandth of its revenue last year!
The DA’s office had brought a criminal charge against SoCal Gas for “failing to properly notify authorities.” But the DA’s office did not even mention all those real crimes committed by SoCal Gas and its officials. Namely, company execs:
– operated aged, corroded gas wells highly prone to leaks for years;
– did not install shut-off valves that could stop a leak when it started;
– continued to operate the Porter Ranch facility during the massive leak;
– did not disclose the exact contents of the leak and the health risks it carried;
– did not take all measures to immediately stop the leak, allowing it to pollute the air and pose a massive fire risk for four months.
All these were decisions company execs made, in the name of profit. But these conscious decisions made thousands of people sick and forced them to flee their homes for months. Properly, these criminal actions should call for prison time for company officials, not just a fine for the company – and a small one at that.
But there’s no such thing as proper justice in this system – not for the poor who languish in prison and not for the wealthy who poison us for their great profit.