A natural gas leak that has spewed methane into the atmosphere for months in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles will be capped by late February, if not sooner, according to the Southern California Gas Company.
The utility said in a statement Monday a relief well project is moving along more quickly than expected.
"Our team of experts has been working around the clock since we started relief well operations in early December and we're pleased with the progress we've made thus far," said Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity for SoCalGas, in a written statement.
Relief well drilling began in early December as part of efforts to plug a gas well that began leaking at the Aliso Canyon facility Oct. 26. The leak has prompted the relocation of schools and more than 2,000 households from the neighborhood in northwest Los Angeles.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the Porter Ranch area, where residents have complained of headaches, nausea and other symptoms they believe are a result of massive gas plumes that have floated into their neighborhoods.
"Our top priority remains the safety of those working on the site and of the nearby community. We are focused on stopping the leak as quickly and safely as possible, mitigating the environmental impact, and supporting the community. Our schedule to control and stop the leak in February is consistent with the plan we have submitted to state regulators," Cho said in the statement.
The gas leak has drawn the ire of residents, community activists, environmental groups and state and local officials.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the leak has released some 84,000 metric tons of methane and 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as of Friday.