SoCalGas ordered to stop cleaning homes affected by gas leak

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has ordered Southern California Gas Co. contractors to stop cleaning the homes affected by the Aliso Canyon gas leak. (KABC)

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has ordered Southern California Gas Co. contractors to stop cleaning the homes affected by the Aliso Canyon gas leak.

Environmental health inspectors found the cleaning being done by SoCal Gas contractors does not meet court-ordered cleaning protocols.

Marilyn Lachman never left her home following the gas leak, which was first detected in October. Since then, she says she's suffered from headaches and bloody noses.

"I want them to clean the house, I want them to clean all the houses," Lachman said.

Health officials say the contractor was neither equipped nor trained for proper cleaning. They said cleaning will not resume until SoCalGas can provide some assurance that it can carry out the cleaning according to protocol.

"Frustrated and not surprised, SoCal gas did the same thing at the parks," said L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander.

Englander said the cleaning method can cause a bigger problem.

"Our labs told them just spray it, clean it, wipe it once and throw the rag away and start over. I'm not sure what they're doing at the houses this time, if they're doing that or something else, but they're not working closely with the labs and the health department to clean it thoroughly and correctly," Englander said.

A SoCalGas spokesperson released the following statement Monday morning, saying in part:

"We are aware there were some issues raised by the Department of Health on the program's first day and we are working to address any issues immediately.

"We are committed to coordinating with the Department of Public Health as they continue to provide details about how they interpret their protocol."

Cleaning the impacted residences is one of the final steps before some displaced families finally return home. Once homes are ultimately cleaned, residents will have 48 hours before their relocation benefits expire.

"Nobody has talked about what they're going to make them do in the future to prevent more of this," Lachman said.

SoCalGas is expected to meet privately with the department sometime Monday to figure out how to resolve the problem.

The leaking well was capped three months ago. The cleaning is necessary because low levels of contaminants were found inside homes.

County health officials believe those contaminants are directly connected to the gas leak. They said there is no long-term health risk but said the contaminants can cause short-term respiratory problems as well as eye, nose, throat and skin irritation.

Once the cleaning continues, the goal is to finish by June 7.
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newsporter ranch gas leakgas leakhealthPorter RanchSan Fernando ValleyLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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