A gas leak in Porter Ranch, California, that spewed clouds of methane into the atmosphere, causing the relocation of thousands of residents, has been sealed, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The leak in the natural gas well over 8,000 feet underground was discovered nearly four months ago.
“We have good news. The Division of Oil and Gas has confirmed that the leak in the Aliso Canyon storage field is permanently sealed,” Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the state Department of Conservation, said at a news conference at a Southern California Gas Co. office in Chatsworth, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The leaking well had been taken out of service, SoCal Gas said in statement, and a local assistance center is slated to open Friday morning, aiming to help residents and businesses recover. By early Thursday, residents of 1,800 households had reportedly returned to their homes and an estimated 4,000 reimbursement checks were issued to those who incurred expenses related to the leak.
“Stopping the leak is only the first stage of recovery. Thousands of lives were upended by this disaster — and the City of Los Angeles is here to help people return to their homes, start doing business again, and get back to normal as quickly as possible,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.
Five separate tests were reportedly completed to determine the integrity of the cement seal, KTLA reported, and air-quality regulators also confirmed that gas emissions were controlled, said Marshall. Moving forward, SoCal Gas will be required to do a full inspection and testing of other wells at Aliso Canyon before injections can resume.
SoCal Gas is facing ongoing investigations by the state attorney general’s office, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office and dozens of lawsuits for economic damage. It also faces four criminal charges from the L.A. County district attorney’s office for failing to report the release of hazardous materials and discharging air contaminants, to which the company has pleaded not guilty.