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Officials Clarify Optimistic Timeline For Capping Porter Ranch Gas Leak

PORTER RANCH ( — Could there be an end in sight for the massive gas leak in Porter Ranch?

An adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown has a plan to cap the leaking well, which would take contractors about five days to permanently seal the well that has been leaking since October.

But that won't be the end of it, another official from the governor's office said.

"To be clear, it is unknown how long the process to seal the well will take from start to finish and the reference to 5 days is based on an estimated best case timeline," a statement from Gareth Lacy, deputy press secretary for the governor, said. "Regardless, if the attempt to seal the well is successful, state regulators will still need to confirm that the leak has stopped, and it is unknown how long that process will take."

At worst, the leaking Southern California Gas Co. well would be plugged by the end of the month, according to the plan outlined by Wade Crowfoot.

The well blowout at the largest natural gas storage facility in the West has forced thousands of residents to temporarily relocate and spewed more than two million tons of methane. Environmentalists are calling it the worst crisis since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Since the leak started 15 weeks ago, residents have reported headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other symptoms. Public health officials blame the woes on an odorant added to the gas, but they said there shouldn't be long-term health problems.

The governor declared an emergency last month, and several public agencies are investigating the leak and have ordered the company to stop it.

KCAL9's Randy Paige reported the gas company is also standing by their original "end of February prediction."

A relief well has reached more than 8,600 feet below the surface and is very close to finding it's mark.

"We are within 100 feet of intercepting the well and so it's very precise," said Mike Mizrahi, a SoCal Gas spokesperson.

Residents also expressed concerned on Friday about how much time the gas company will allow them go return to their homes -- the company offered residents 48 hours.

Councilmember Mitch Englander told Paige he thought at least a week was more reasonable.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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