The company has said it is doing everything it can to plug the well that extends more than 8,000 feet underground, and help people who have reported illnesses. State and local agencies have been monitoring the air quality for weeks around the leak site in Aliso Canyon and in surrounding areas. While the levels of methane measured in the surrounding air aren't currently considered a serious health risk, according to the LA County Department of Public Health, substances called mercaptans that give the otherwise-odorless methane a pungent, "rotten egg" smell can cause irritation, dizziness and some breathing issues.
As of Monday, the company had placed 2,258 families in temporary housing, a spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
"For those experiencing health symptoms due to the odorant, we are continuing to offer home solutions that will help to reduce the smell indoors," Arriola, the SoCal Gas CEO, wrote to Brown on Dec. 23. "Our highest and most urgent priority is to stop the leak. We have hundreds of our employees, expert consultants and suppliers working around the clock to resolve this issue."
After attempting other methods to stop the leak, the company has begun drilling relief wells that would allow it to seal off the gas by pumping cement underground. SoCal Gas has said that the work to plug the well may not be complete until late March. On Sunday, the company said that it has drilled about 3,800 feet toward the target well, and that it is beginning work to drill a second, backup relief well.
"We are working as quickly and safely as possibly to complete this operation," Arriola wrote in his letter.