Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Pipeline Owner To Stop Paying Temporary Housing For Arvin Residents

Nov 6, 2014

One of the eight homes evacuated in March on Nelson Court.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Arvin residents who were forced out of their homes in March because of a toxic gas leak are now facing a new dilemma. This time it's dealing with housing. 

The oil company that owns the leaking pipeline told eight Arvin families on Tuesday that they will stop paying for their temporary housing at the end of this month. 

That means residents will either have to return home or pay out of pocket to live elsewhere.

Since the evacuation, Petro Capital Resources has been paying for residents to live in an apartment complex in Bakersfield. Their homes had been contaminated with explosive and toxic gases after the leaking pipeline was discovered in March.

The company’s announcement comes less than a week after Kern County officials lifted a mandatory evacuation order for the neighborhood, saying there were no longer threats of explosive gases in the homes.

But some residents including Yesenia Lara say they’re still worried about the presence of toxic chemicals.

“PCR is saying that it’s clean but they really never did give us a complete report where it says there’s zero contamination inside the house anymore.”

Kern County is in the middle of conducting further tests for toxic chemicals. And state experts will review the results when they’re released.

Yesenia Lara walks through her living room surrounded by new furniture she had ordered prior to the evacuation.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

As of now, Lara says she will not move back to her house until she knows it’s safe. And as far her housing situation, she says she can’t afford to stay at the apartment.

“Hopefully the county will pick up the tab because I know I can afford my mortgage, my bills that I’m paying like I was there plus this apartment that’s around $2,500 a month.”

Petro Capital Resources could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Meanwhile, residents say they expect to meet with county officials on Friday.