SHERMAN OAKS—A ruling has been reached by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias regarding thousands of displaced people due to the Porter Ranch gas leak.
Judge Elias found that more time was needed for environmental testing in order to ensure the safety of the residents. Residents that returned home after the leak was capped are continuing to report health issues.
A temporary restraining order was issued against The Gas Company to continue funding for the displaced residents until March 18. The Gas Company intended to cut off funding after February 25, as they are paying close to $2 million a day to house the displaced residents.
Earlier this month, an agreement was reached between The Gas Company and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office that gave residents eight days to return once the leak was officially capped off as deemed by the state.
Gas Co. spokesman Mike Mizrahi said that they will examine their legal options as to why an extension was deemed necessary.
“We put together a plan for coming home. We entered into an agreement to extend that plan for coming home and now on the day that people are actually checking out, we have this conundrum,” said Mizrahi. “So we’re perplexed. We need to look further into what’s transpired here and move ahead accordingly.”
On February 10, a letter was sent from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to the Gas Co. requesting a 30-day time period for residents to return home. The Gas Co. refused the request and the board authorized attorneys to go to court to obtain a temporary restraining order.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich stated, “The county Department of Public Health has determined that now that the well is sealed and the emissions have ceased, the time needed for a comprehensive evaluation of the air monitoring results and home testing is at least 30 days. An eight-day limit established by the city of Los Angeles and the Gas Company victimizes the victims once again.”
Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich, said the supervisor is “very happy about the judge’s ruling today. It’s a victory for the residents of Porter Ranch and for fairness, really.”
According to SoCalGas, as of mid-February, more that 4,600 households were in temporary homes.