Massive gas leak has cost utility company $50 million

LOS ANGELES — A utility company said it has spent about $50 million because of a massive leak from an underground natural gas storage well near Los Angeles.

The parent company of Southern California Gas Co. filed papers Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission with the estimate for costs associated with trying to stop the leak and to reimburse people who have been displaced by a sickening stench.

The company said in the filing that it expects to keep running up similar costs at least until the well is capped. It said, however, that it has four types of insurance that should cover the costs, along with the expense of litigation stemming from the leak.

The leak has been out-of-control since late October and has driven thousands of people out of the upscale Los Angeles community of Porter Ranch.

A SoCalGas executive says it is paying to relocate 2,800 households and is trying to find temporary homes for 1,700 others.

The revelation came a day after California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the leak.

Also Thursday, Democratic leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington wrote seeking answers from the heads of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which share jurisdiction over the leak.

The leaders ask that they be briefed in the next week on what is being done to mitigate the leak and its “potentially disastrous effects,” they said in a statement.