Methane gas leaking since October is ‘temporarily under control’

LOS ANGELES: The company responsible for a massive methane leak outside Los Angeles that was first detected in October said Thursday it was “temporarily” under control, and that it was working to permanently seal the well.

The leak, the biggest in California’s history, has been deemed an environmental disaster by several outside experts. About 4,500 people living in the affluent Porter Ranch area were forced to relocate, and others became ill from the fumes.

Methane, which is colorless and odorless, is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The Southern California Gas Company began drilling a relief well in December to intercept and plug the damaged well at its Aliso Canyon storage facility outside Los Angeles, and those efforts seemed to be working.

“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, SoCalGas senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity.

The company said the “leak and the flow of gas will be declared ended” once California officials confirm that the well has been “permanently sealed.”

A lawsuit filed by California’s attorney general last week, alleging that SoCalGas violated state health and safety laws by failing to promptly contain the leak, seeks unspecified civil penalties.

It follows similar action taken in December by the Los Angeles city attorney. Many Porter Ranch residents have also joined a class action suit against the gas company.

Source: APP/AFP