LOS ANGELES (CNS) — SoCalGas has petitioned the Los Angeles County Superior Court to annul a directive requiring the utility to clean homes in Porter Ranch, arguing that there is no health hazard.
A statement released by SoCalGas said, “The facts are clear. Public health officials, including Department of Public Health, have repeatedly stated that their data do not suggest that the conditions in the greater Porter Ranch area present a risk to public health, and that the community is safe.”
SoCalGas has cleaned more than 1,700 homes of residents displaced by the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, according to the statement.
The leak, discovered in October, was capped Feb. 18 and the utility says it has delivered on its promise to help an estimated 8,000 residents return home.
“Since the well has been sealed, thousands of samples have been taken by regulatory agencies, including the Department of Public Health, of the indoor and outdoor air, and of soil and dust in selected homes in the Porter Ranch community. Public Health’s own testing results have detected no substance above state or federal levels of concern,” the statement continued.
DPH officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but an update to the Board of Supervisors by interim Director Cynthia Harding dated Monday, July 11, said that as many as 10,000 homes might ultimately require cleaning.
Harding also that more than half of those already cleaned might need to be re-cleaned due to the utility’s “deficient performance.”
The clean-up — ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Wiley in May — was prompted by an announcement by DPH that its environmental testing found no airborne contaminants, but surface dust contained “low levels of metal contaminants” consistent with those found in “well-drilling fluid.”
Monday’s update by Harding reiterated that concern.
Gas Co. officials said the company could be required to clean nearly 35,000 homes, “virtually every home in the Porter Ranch community and beyond, even though people having been living in these homes throughout.”
They said SoCal Gas remains committed to working with regulators and residents. However, it is not acceptable to require unnecessary work that is neither justified nor supported,” according to the statement.
The board update indicated that public health and utility officials were scheduled to meet Tuesday. Harding said her objective for that meeting was to get the utility to retain qualified cleaning contractors and provide documentation of cleaning in compliance with the directive, but also said staff was consulting with legal counsel on alternatives.