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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Massive L.A. Methane Leak Finally Sealed

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The well that spewed methane gas for over 100 days and displaced thousands of people in a Los Angeles suburb has been sealed, state regulators confirmed Thursday.

California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources said that the well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility has been permanently sealed and shut down after the well's owner, SoCalGas, said last week that it has stopped the flow of gas.

SoCalGas chairman, president and CEO Dennis Arriola said he was pleased the well had been sealed but said there was still "much work to do" to return the thousands of displaced residents to their homes.

"We recognize the disruption the gas leak has caused to the residents of Porter Ranch and surrounding communities in the northern San Fernando Valley. We are committed to earning back their trust and confidence over time through our actions, not our words," Arriola said.

Residents in the Porter Ranch community near the well first complained about a leak at Northridge facility on Oct. 23.

SoCalGas maintained that the gas is not harmful, but residents said that a foul-smelling odorant used to detect leaks and other harmful chemicals made them sick. Residents complained of nausea, dizziness, headaches, nose bleeds and fatigue.

The company has relocated more than 4,500 households.

The gas company said the California Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District had reported an "abrupt decline" in methane levels since the company controlled the flow of gas on Feb. 11.

The company said that with the well sealed, the foul-smelling odorants will no longer plague residents in the affected communities.

Under an agreement with the LA City Attorney's Office, SoCalGas will give Porter Ranch residents eight days to return to their homes, rather than the 48 hours the company had originally allotted.

On Wednesday, SoCalGas pleaded not guilty to criminal charges filed this month by Los Angeles County prosecutors. The company is facing dozens of civil complaints filed in connection with the environmental disaster.

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