A leak at a natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch that’s been raging since October 23 has finally—temporarily—been stopped. The Southern California Gas Company made the announcement today, reports the LA Times. “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 a SoCal Gas rep. But this is just a “crucial first step” in permanently fixing the humongous leak, a process that could take at least a few days to complete.
The whole stopping-the-leak effort is “being conducted under new orders imposed by the Safety and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission” and the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. The CPUC has told the gas company not to “remove, temporarily store, bury or raze” any part of the well or anything within a 400-foot radius of it, as all that’s fair game to be used as evidence in the many criminal and civil cases against the gas company.
Once the leak is finally, permanently stopped, the thousands of residents who moved out of the area because of the smell (odorants added to the gas to aid in detecting leaks were blamed for residents’ nosebleeds and headaches) will have just eight days to move back in.
That date’s a little controversial. Even though it’s longer than the 48 hours the gas company initially suggested, it’s not enough time to be sure that the air’s totally free of natural gas. (The Department of Public Health will be monitoring the air in Porter Ranch for 30 days after the leak’s plugged to make sure it’s safe just in case.) The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that “at least 95,000 metric tons of potent, climate-forcing methane have escaped – the same 20-year climate impact as burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline,” they say in a statement.
· Gas leak at Porter Ranch well is stopped — at least temporarily