The Southern California Gas Company announced yesterday that the massive methane leak plaguing the suburbs of Los Angeles has finally been plugged, at least temporarily. The Aliso Canyon well leak, which was first reported October 23, put the area’s environment and residents in danger and forced thousands to evacuate their homes to escape illness. The utility hopes to seal the leak permanently within the next few days. Perhaps then, nearby residents will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

This week, the utility company began the final phase of drilling a relief well in order to reach the damaged section of the natural gas storage well near the upscale Porter Ranch neighborhood. Last month, after pumping fluids into the leaking well in an attempt to quell the disaster, SoCalGas had to resort to installing flat mesh screens to trap an oily mist that continued to carry toxins to surrounding areas, leaving brown spots on residents’ homes, cars, and properties. The utility is still pumping fluid into the well, and the next step will entail filling the well with concrete to seal it completely.

Related: Huge natural gas leak in CA has the impact of burning 300 million gallons of gasoline

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Once the utility confirms the leak is sealed off, residents will have to endure an additional eight-day waiting period before they can consider returning to their homes. The temporary seal is a good sign this environmental and public health disaster will soon be drawing to a close, but some are warning that additional caution is still needed. Given the duration and extent of the pollution caused by the leak, Rep. Brad Sherman is calling for the California Air Resources Board to certify the air is clear from natural gas before residents return home.

Via Gizmodo

Images via SoCalGas