HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — Over 100 Hawthorne residents who were evacuated nearly two weeks ago due to a dangerous methane gas leak began returning to their homes Wednesday, officials said.
KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports starting around 9 a.m., 37 families were allowed to re-enter their homes following inspections by Los Angeles County Fire crews.
Roughly two dozen homes in the neighborhood of Imperial Highway and Truro Avenue were evacuated on Sept. 12 after seeping methane was detected around a local wellhead.
After multiple attempts were made to plug the wellhead with proprietary slurry of mud and gel to control emissions, well owner Golden State Water Co. contracted well-control company Boots and Coots International to custom design and install a “blowout preventer”, or pressure relief valve.
Mario Benjamin and other members of the L.A. County Fire’s hazmat division walked through the affected homes to test methane and carbon monoxide levels before allowing residents back in.
“So far, everything that we’ve checked, safe level, everything is very good,” Benjamin said.
Resident Maricella Martin was thrilled to be back at her home on Condon Avenue.
“This is, like, the best news ever,” Martin said. “I was like a kid in Disneyland.”
County Fire Inspector Anthony Atkins said the decision was a collaborative effort between Golden State and its contractor, who both believe the methane threat has passed.
The addition of the pressure relief valve should provide officials with another way to help stop any future leaks, Atkins said.
“They’ve mitigated the methane flow, and have been in the process of installing a blowout preventer which should limit any releases from the well and gives us an opportunity to control it better,” Atkins said.
Methane, the largest component of natural gas, occurs in pockets under much of Southern California’s flatlands. When collected by pipelines, odorless methane is scented with an additive and then distributed to businesses and homes as natural gas.
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