County orders Gas Company to stop cleaning Porter Ranch homes

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says it has ordered an immediate halt to the Southern California Gas Company's clean-up of homes of Porter Ranch residents and that it called a meeting for Monday to remedy deficiencies in the company's cleaning procedures.

The Stop-Work order came late Sunday and pertained to a cleanup operation by SoCalGas and its contractors at the homes of residents who were relocated because of the gas leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage
facility. The cleanup was mandated in a ruling Friday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Wiley.

Public Health assigned environmental health specialists to observe the cleaning performed by SoCalGas contractors over the weekend, according to a statement issued by the agency.

"Public Health concluded that the remedial cleaning, implemented by SoCalGas and their contractors, does not comply with the cleaning protocol" that had been agreed upon, according to the statement.

"Public health found that the contractor was neither equipped nor trained for proper cleaning as required by Public Health," the agency said. It directed SoCalGas to immediately discontinue cleaning and meet today with county officials to discuss resolving the deficiencies and ensure strict compliance with the court-ordered protocol.

Wiley ruled that the housing relocation program can end but required SoCalGas to offer cleaning services to owners of as many as 2,500 homes.

Residents in hotels have until 5 p.m. on May 25 to request cleaning, and residents in housing other than hotels have until 5 p.m. May 27 to request it. Once homes are cleaned, the residents will have 48 hours to return under the ruling. Residents who do not request cleaning had 48 hours after those deadlines to return home.

Public Health announced last week 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," suggesting they came from the Aliso Canyon gas leak that was discovered in October and capped Feb. 18. The finding prompted the cleanup operation.

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