LOS ANGELES (CN) - The massive methane gas leak that displaced thousands of people in a Los Angeles suburb could soon be over, with SoCalGas saying Thursday it had temporarily controlled the flow of leaking gas from the well.
SoCalGas cautioned that while its efforts to control the flow of gas by pumping heavy fluids into the well are a "positive development," it will take several days to inject cement from a relief well to seal it and for state officials to inspect the work.
"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," SoCalGas' Jimmie Cho said in a statement
Residents in the adjacent Porter Ranch community first complained about the leak at the natural gas storage facility in Northridge on Oct. 23.
SoCalGas insists 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 have complained of nausea, dizziness, headaches, nose bleeds and fatigue.
The company has relocated more than 4,500 households but said that once inspectors confirm the leak has ended the company will "start winding down its temporary relocation program."
SoCalGas had said that it expected to seal the well by the end of February.
As part of its efforts to plug the leak, SoCalGas began drilling a relief well on Dec. 4. The company says that with state and local agencies watching, the company intercepted the base of the leaking well today. It then pumped heavy fluids to control the flow of leaking gas.
California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources inspectors will confirm that the well is permanently sealed - a process that could take several days, SoCalGas said.
Under an agreement with the LA City Attorney's Office, SoCalGas will give Porter Ranch residents eight days to return to their homes once the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak is plugged, rather than the 48 hours the company originally allotted residents.
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