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SoCal Gas Company is Mucking Up Porter Ranch Cleanup

The contractor hired to clean houses hasn't been doing things right

In the wake of the disastrous leak at a gas storage field near Porter Ranch that drove thousands of people from their homes last fall and was blamed for giving locals nosebleeds and headaches, the cleanup effort is still underway (the leak was plugged in February). At least, it was until this past weekend, when the Southern California Gas Company's cleaning crews were ordered to stop cleaning area homes. The LA County Department of Public Health halted the cleanings after "concluding that the utility’s contractor was not properly trained or equipped to carry out the cleanup," the LA Times reports.

The air inside Porter Ranch homes was found to be free of contaminants, but "surface dust had low levels of metal contaminants that are similar to those found in the fluid used in well drilling," says the Times. That does seem to indicate that the contaminated dust was the result of the leak at the Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch.

While the cleanup was underway, the health department dispatched specialists to monitor the cleaning crews, which were at work after an LA Superior Court ruling on Friday that said that the gas company was on the hook for cleanup at 2,500 Porter Ranch homes.

But the health department's observers found that the both the gas company and the contractor it hired weren't following required measures by the health department.

In a statement, a rep for the health department says work won't start up again until the gas company can assure the department that "it can carry out the cleaning in compliance with the Public Health protocol."

Health department officials hoped to set up a meeting with the gas company today to discuss compliance with regulations and right the cleanup efforts.