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Part of Imperial Highway closed as crews try to cap methane gas leak

September 16, 2013|By Angel Jennings

A stretch of Imperial Highway in Hawthorne was shutdown Monday morning as crews attempted to cap a water well that has been spewing methane gas for days.

Contractors with Boots & Coots International Well Control are attempting to force mud into the well, said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan.  A one-third mile stretch between Inglewood and Firmona avenues on Imperial Highway will be closed to traffic for an unspecified amount of time, he said.

The well has been spewing up to 3,000 gallons per minute of water mixed with high levels of methane gas since Thursday.  Crews with Gold State Water Co. were trying to plug a retired well on Imperial Highway between Truro and Condon avenues when they discovered an unexpected flow of water.  Tests revealed that methane gas had mixed with the well water. 

"This situation and repairs have no effect on the local water supply, which continues to meet all drinking water quality standards," Patrick Scanlon, vice president of Golden State Water Co., said Monday in a  statement.

Thirty-seven families in the immediate vicinity were evacuated as a precaution, Jordan said. All have been staying in a hotel since Thursday as crews work to fix the leak.

Golden State Water Co. has hired the well-known capping company Boots & Coots International Well Control to control the mixture of high-pressure water and methane gas being released on private property.

Boots & Coots "will fabricate a metal structure to secure the well valve that is under high pressure," Jordan said in a prepared statement. "After the valve is secure, forward progress will continue."

Methane gas can be deadly if inhaled in a confined space, officials said, and can cause a massive explosion if ignited.

Official are unsure what caused the leak and how long residents will be displaced.

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Twitter: LATangel

angel.jennings@latimes.com

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