PORTER RANCH—On Tuesday, May 15, the Southern California Gas Company decided against following a directive from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health by announcing that SoCalGas will not clean the homes of residents that were affected by the gas leak in Porter Ranch.

In a statement written by the Department of Public Health to SoCalGas, the Department wrote, “Southern California Gas Company is directed to immediately and unconditionally offer, and, if accepted by the resident/homeowner, implement comprehensive cleaning of all homes that meet any of the following criteria: (1) located within the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council boundary as shown on the attached map; or (2) participated in the relocation program; or (3) located within a 5-mile radius of the SS-25 well and where residents have experienced symptoms. Southern California Gas Company shall provide this cleaning service at its own expense.”

SoCalGas responded with a statement of their own on May 15, “DPH recommends that residents clean their homes with soap and water, and vacuum out of an abundance of caution to address dust that may have accumulated while residents were away. DPH also stated that cleaning ‘is not a barrier to move back in.’ SoCalGas is reviewing a DPH directive regarding the funding of a comprehensive cleaning protocol for all homes in the Porter Ranch area. At this time, in the light of the data confirming that it is safe to return home, SoCalGas is not offering cleaning to additional residents.”

Congressman Brad Sherman of California’s 30th District is a local resident of the Porter Ranch area and has been fighting for the residents to get more help from SoCalGas. Earlier this month, he requested that SoCalGas extend the services of a local Community Resource Center to seven days a week. In a statement to Congressman Sherman dated May 16, SoCalGas denied the request.

“While I understand your request that we open the CRC seven days a week, we no longer have the traffic at the Center in Porter Ranch to justify longer hours. Daily visits to the CRC have vastly decreased. We continue to have less than 150 visitors per day, which is easily handled within the current hours.”

The company also stated, “The Department of Public Health has stated that it is safe for residents to return home; we agree. Now residents who continue to remain away from their communities unnecessarily can feel safe returning home.”

Congressman Sherman took to the House floor on May 17 and voiced his concerns with SoCalGas.

“SoCalGas has decided to shortchange the residents who have evacuated. They have decided they don’t want to pay for the required cleaning protocol necessary to make homes safe. That is their release of just a couple of days ago. That is outrageous. The cleaning is necessary to make the homes safe, L.A. County Public Health says so, and SoCalGas should pay that cost too.”

He added, “the leak resulted from SoCalGas’ negligence.” Sherman believes  SoCalGas needs to be held fully responsible when it comes to payment and “the cost of this event must not be passed through the consumers of Los Angeles.”

In a separate statement, SoCalGas stated that they desire to end the temporary relocation program as early as Sunday, May 22. Initially, Los Angeles Superior Court determined that SoCalGas would be ordered to provide housing through June 7. Based on the findings of the Department of Public Health, SoCalGas wants to push the date forward. A court will decide this issue on Friday, May 20.