After nearly four months, the massive gas leak responsible for spewing more than 2 million tons of methane into an LA neighborhood has been plugged.
“We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak,” said Jimmie Cho, accident commander for Southern California Gas Co., which owns the 115-well Aliso Canyon facility.
Although the flow of natural gas has been temporarily stopped, the well — known as SS25 — is not yet permanently sealed. According to a press release by SoCalGas, the well could be permanently sealed with concrete in just a few more days. SoCalGas is also continuing to dig a back-up relief well in case the current plug fails.
To achieve the temporary plug, SoCalGas began digging a relief well in December. When they reached the base of the leaking well, they injected a mud-like substance to block more natural gas from escaping. The area will now be monitored for evidence of a leak for 24 hours.
After the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources inspects the sealed well and declares it officially closed, the thousands of relocated Porter Ranch residents will have a week to return to their homes. After the week, SoCalGas will no longer be responsible for living costs. So far, about 1,700 of the total 6,400 dislocated families have returned.
Many residents, however, remain leery of the long-term impact of their exposure, which resulted in headaches, nosebleeds, nausea and more.
“It changes from controlling the crisis to now navigating recovery,” Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council, told the Los Angeles Times. “Homeowners have been injured. Property values have been injured. There’s going to be a version of PTSD as they get a whiff of any odor in their home.”
When all is said and done, the catastrophic leak is expected to cost the company up to $300 million, reported the Associated Press, without considering financial damage incurred from 67 pending lawsuits.
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