Porter Ranch gas leak patched, perma-fix underway

For more than three months, a well near Porter Ranch in California has been leaking massive volumes of gas into the environment, forcing residents to be evacuated to leased houses and hotels. The incident has been called an environmental disaster, but now, finally, a fix has been put in place. According to Southern California Gas Co., the first step in a solution to the problem has been implemented and was successful. It is being described as a temporary fix, but the process of permanently blocking it is now underway.

The gas leak, shown in the GIF below, is massive, and responsible for releasing more greenhouse gases into the environment during its time than any other single source in the state. This will have an effect on global warming, adding the urgency to get a fix in place. As well, the odorant added to gas had caused sickness and health complaints among hundreds of residents, leading to about 4400 homes being evacuated.

Fortunately, the worst of it now appears behind us. According to the gas company's SVP of gas operations Jimmie Cho, "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."

At this point, workers have gotten a relief well to the bottom of the leaking well, and heavy fluids are being pumped into it to step the gas leaking out. In an ideal world, that could permanently block the leak. Preparations are now under way to fill the region with cement, however, which will be a permanent solution to the hole.

Once that fix is in place, inspections will be done to test whether it is implemented properly and able to keep things squared away. Residents will be able to return to their homes once the permanent fix is in place, but may have to wait for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to check the air and ensure there is no natural gas still present.

It is unclear whether that CARB testing will take place, though; one state rep made it clear earlier this week that he wants the measure in place, but it doesn't appear to be official at this time.

For its part, the gas company is being investigated and will be responsible for all costs associated with the incident.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times