LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Porter Ranch residents have another week to return to their homes, under an agreement reached Friday between attorneys for Southern California Gas Co. and Los Angeles County.
SoCal Gas had planned to end funding for residents’ temporary housing Friday, but agreed earlier this week to extend it through Monday to give them the weekend to move.
Attorneys for the county and the city of Los Angeles went to court to ask a judge for an even longer extension – until mid-May – but the request was denied in the absence of concrete evidence that it would be unsafe for residents to return to their homes. As a compromise, SoCal Gas attorneys agreed to extend the relocation benefits until March 25.
According to the utility’s attorneys, about 2,600 Porter Ranch-area residents are still in temporary housing, costing the company up to $1.8 million a day.
County attorneys say some residents who have returned to their homes are still reporting short-term health issues. Health officials said last week they had received about 300 complaints from residents experiencing various symptoms, including nausea, stomach aches and respiratory irritation. The complaints have prompted county officials to begin door-to-door visits in hopes of understanding why symptoms were still being reported.
SoCal Gas crews have also been visiting homes close to Aliso Canyon to determine if they need cleaning, as some residents have reported finding black or brown oily residue. Cleaning crews were also dispatched to public parks, school and community playgrounds.
On Thursday, SoCalGas released the results of indoor air-quality screening tests conducted at a sampling of Porter Ranch homes. Company executives said the tests found methane levels in the normal range and no evidence of odorants that might cause health issues.
The gas leak was first detected Oct. 23. It was unofficially stopped on Feb. 11, thanks to the digging of a lengthy relief well, and formally declared sealed on Feb. 18. That announcement started the clock ticking on a then-eight-day deadline for residents to return to their homes before SoCalGas ended funding for temporary housing.
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