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Judge upholds 22-day extension for SoCal Gas to pay for displaced residents' housing

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Residents displaced by the SoCal Gas methane leak are now concerned about an oily residue in their homes. (KABC)

A judge has denied Southern California Gas Co.'s efforts to fight the extra time granted to Porter Ranch residents staying in temporary housing at the company's expense.

The denial means those residents will continue to have the 22-day extension that started last Thursday to stay in hotels on SoCal Gas's tab.

Thousands of residents were relocated months ago as a result of the biggest methane leak in U.S. history at the company's Alison Canyon storage facility.

The company had argued that the leak was sealed and it was safe for them to come home last week.

But a judge had granted them the extra 22 days so that their homes could be fully tested and confirmed as safe. The company's appeal of that extension has now been rejected.

In fact, even with the gas leak capped, many residents remain concerned that their homes are not safe.

In particular, some have discovered an oily residue on various surfaces in their homes.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health issued a warning to residents to avoid contact with food and any surfaces that appear to be coated with the oily residue.

The department told residents to contact SoCal Gas for assistance with cleaning up any such residue, saying the material could cause skin irritation or a rash.

"We advise members of the public to not clean it up themselves," said Angelo Bellomo, deputy director of health protection with the county health department. "We're really recommending that they let the experts take care of that."

SoCal Gas spokesman Mike Mizrahi said the residue is a result of efforts last year to seal off the leaking well at the Alison Canyon storage facility. He said while it's unlikely to be found inside most homes, the company will clean up any residue that is found.

He said now that the leak has been capped the air is safe in the neighborhood.

"I hope this doesn't convince people that they need to stay away," Mizrahi said.

Porter Ranch resident Daisy Weinberg discovered the thin coat of oil and black spots in areas inside her home.

She plans to have professional cleaners fully scrub down the house before she and her family move back.

But that will be too late for one family member.

Weinberg said her family's three-year-old bulldog, Duke, suffered a seizure and died after spending three days back at the house last week.

"We think it was something here because he was fine (before)," she said.
Related Topics:
newsporter ranch gas leakgas leakPorter RanchSan Fernando ValleyLos Angeles
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