A giant gas leak on the outskirts of Los Angeles has finally been sealed off, 16 weeks after it began spewing methane into the region, The Associated Press reports.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the leak pumped out more carbon dioxide than is emitted by the entire state of Vermont in a year. Activist Erin Brockovich called it "a catastrophe not seen since the BP oil spill."

The leak caused schools to close and uprooted 6,400 families, many of whom "complained of headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other symptoms as an intermittent stench wafted through the area," The AP said. Penalties from government agencies are likely forthcoming, and SoCalGas, which bears responsibility for the leak, is currently facing 65 lawsuits stemming from the incident.

It is still not clear what caused the leak, The AP said, but the state has now proposed methane regulations that Inside Climate News is calling "the strongest in the country." Among other things, they would require regular inspections for leak detection and repair, and apply to many parts of the supply chain including storage facilities, processing plants, wellheads and related equipment.

The current seal is only temporary, as it still must be cemented and inspected. But even when that happens The AP says, "life for some may never return to normal." Many residents are concerned about plummeting home values "now that Porter Ranch is associated with this disaster," while others fear their homes may be contaminated, or that a similar incident may occur down the line.


"Because this one well we know about is shut down, it doesn't indicate anything about the rest of the facility," said Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch, a group advocating to shutter the facility. "People are terrified to go home."

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.