SoCal Gas appeals 22-day extension for Porter Ranch residents displaced by gas leak

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The Southern California Gas Company has appealed a court ordered 22-day extension to allow Porter Ranch residents displaced by the gas leak more time to move back into their homes.

ABC7 has learned the Southern California Gas Co. has appealed a 22-day extension that would allow Porter Ranch residents forced from their homes by the gas leak to remain in their temporary housing at the utility's expense which was granted by a judge on Thursday.

SoCal Gas had fought efforts to extend the eight-day window for residents to return home following the capping of the leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility.

"City, county and state air quality authorities have consistently reported that the leak posed no long-term health risk, and any short-term symptoms should have gone away when the leak was stopped two weeks ago," according to an earlier statement from the company.

"Based on discussions with the L.A. City Attorney's Office, as well as health analysis from all relevant regulatory experts, it's clear there is no health and safety benefit to extending the time beyond what we and the City Attorney's Office have agreed upon."

SoCal Gas is footing the bill for residents' temporary housing, but that funding had been set to end Thursday.

The judge's extension order was granted based on a request from Los Angeles County attorneys for a temporary restraining order extending the deadline. ABC7 reached out to SoCal Gas who later confirmed they appealed the court's decision.

"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," county Supervisor Mike Antonovich said. "An eight-day limit established by the city of Los Angeles and the Gas Company victimizes the victims once again."

Also on Thursday, researchers reported that the gas leak was the largest known release of climate-changing methane in U.S. history.

The leak lasted 16 weeks and spewed 107,000 tons of methane, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Preliminary figures from the study were previously reported, but the article includes final results and puts the leak in context with other disasters and other sources of global warming.

The leak first reported Oct. 23 at the Aliso Canyon storage facility released the greenhouse gas equivalent of 572,000 cars in a year, the report said.

The total methane released weighed the equivalent of two aircraft carriers and at its peak it discharged enough gas to fill a balloon the size of the Rose Bowl every day.

Meanwhile, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) testified in Washington D.C. on Thursday that the gas leak could have been prevented with more state and federal regulation. Sherman spoke before the Transportation and Infrastructure House Subcommittee on Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Sherman, who lives in Porter Ranch, spoke about his Gas Storage Safety Act, legislation aimed at preventing another gas leak such as the one that was just capped at the storage facility.

"We need nationwide regulation so Aliso Canyon doesn't happen again, either in Aliso Canyon or anywhere else in the country," Sherman said. "Frankly, the administration has the authority to do that under current statute. My bill would force them to go forward."

Sherman also said he believes the utility should continue paying relocation costs.

"I think SoCal Gas should continue to pay people's rent until they sample the indoor air quality, look at the carpets, drapes and soil and make sure that just because the gas leak has stopped the air quality and the soil quality is safe," Sherman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
Related Topics:
newsporter ranch gas leakgas leakgas fumesenvironmentPorter RanchLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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