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Gas Company Entices Porter Ranch Residents With Free House Cleaning

SoCal Gas is trying to cut down on relocation fees by cleaning homes so that owners can return to them

Since a massive gas leak in Aliso Canyon forced thousands of Porter Ranch residents to temporarily leave their homes, Southern California Gas Co. has been on the hook for months of relocation fees. Obviously, that's not an ideal situation for the utility company. In its latest attempt to entice people back into their homes, SoCal Gas is offering cleaning services free of charge: move back in, and someone from the gas company will come over and help you tidy up.

Don't expect SoCal Gas to fold clothes or empty the dishwasher though. This is a very specific kind of cleaning. My News LA reports that the company will be scrubbing "carpets, counter tops, tables, flooring, furniture, windows and window sills" to remove any harmful chemicals that might have lingered after the leak. Though SoCal Gas says that air quality tests have shown that homes in Porter Ranch are safe, many residents remain unconvinced. The company is apparently hoping the cleaning service will change their minds. "We are pleased to offer this toxicologist-approved home cleaning service to address residents’ concerns and give them confidence that their homes are clean and ready for their return," said Gillian Wright, vice president of customer services for SoCal Gas.

In spite of understandable safety concerns from Porter Ranch residents after the Aliso Canyon leak was plugged in February, SoCal Gas has tried repeatedly to rush people back into their homes. Initially, the utility company gave residents only 48 hours to return to their houses, but that timeline has been pushed back considerably with the help of city and county officials. Recently, residents complained that the company was also behind on reimbursing relocation expenses.

Members of the Porter Ranch community might also be concerned about the possibility of future leaks. Earlier this month, monitors found slightly elevated levels of methane in the area, and last week another leak (from a well operated by a different company) spewed out 30 gallons of oil. Meanwhile, SoCal Gas is trying to speed up inspections of its aging Aliso Canyon wells in order to get the facility back into operation as soon as possible.