Huge natural gas leak in California will take months to fix, officials say

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“The escape of tons of natural gas from storage under a Los Angeles neighborhood is not likely to be fixed for at least another two months because of the specific dynamics of the leak, according to officials.

The leak at Porter Ranch, already several months old, has forced the relocation of several thousand residents who said the stench made them sick.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that the leak persists because workers were unable to plug it and instead have the painstaking task of drilling two relief wells.

Officials with Southern California Gas, which operates the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility, estimate the new wells may not be finished until the end of February, or even later. The new pipes will meet where the well emerges from rock that forms the “capstone” which seals the gas in place.

The natural repository is huge – nearly one cubic mile at a depth of a mile and a half, according to the newspaper – and holds natural gas brought from as far away as Canada. The gas company holds it underground, then distributes it to nearly 22 million customers in the region.

Southern California Gas tried to plug the damaged well after the leak began in October, but both an ice blockage and upward pressure averaging 2,700 pounds per square inch wouldn’t let the mixture of mud and brine work.

Amid concerns that trying to force the mixture down might create a larger leak, the company decided to drill two relief wells, said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the California department of conservation, which regulates natural gas wells…”

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