LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southern California Gas Company examined its legal options Friday after a judge granted Los Angeles County’s request to extend the payment period for displaced families to return home.
Thursday marked the original agreed upon deadline for relocated families to move back into their homes, just eight days after state regulators confirmed that the Aliso Canyon storage facility was capped.
Some residents who returned to Porter Ranch, however, reported symptoms have returned once again.
In response, the county took SoCal Gas Co. to court, saying health department officials need more time to make sure vacated homes are free of methane gas.
A Superior Court judge subsequently issued a temporary restraining order preventing the utility company from cutting off funding for temporary housing until March 18. SoCal Gas Co. then filed an appeal.
“Our decision to file an appeal recognizes the substantial, public body of scientific data from local, independent air quality and health agencies that have demonstrated that the air quality in the area has never posed any long-term health risk, and that the air has now returned to the typical air quality levels that existed prior to the leak,” the utility company said in a written statement. “Air quality levels in and around Porter Ranch are consistent with levels before the leak occurred.”
According to SoCal Gas Co.’s attorneys, the county’s own health experts said any short-term side effects will dissipate now that the leak was been capped.
“Given these independent health findings, we were disappointed by the court’s order, as it conflicts with the science and health assessments made by the county’s own health experts over the last few months and even as recently as Feb. 18,” gas company officials wrote.
Several factors were taken into consideration while negotiating the relocation plan, including air quality, health and safety, logistics and proper notification, according to SoCal Gas Co.
CBS2’s Jasmine Viel reported SoCal Gas Co. will only reimburse displaced residents who stayed or checked out of a hotel yesterday.
The company stresses they believe there should be no delay for residents to move home as there are no environmental or health concerns in the Porter Ranch-area.
The relocation battle is costing SoCal Gas Co. as much as $2 million per day to house roughly 3,400 displaced residents.