A state official told a community meeting Thursday that the Southern California Gas Co. well could be plugged by the end of next week.
The lawsuit also cites environmental damage caused by the uncontrolled release of 80,000 metric tons of methane, the prime component of natural gas and a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Englander said residents in Porter Ranch and other communities need additional time to assess the safety of residue left on their homes and furniture from the leak. Public health officials blame the woes on an odorant added to the gas, but they said there shouldn't be long-term health problems.
Residents had been hoping for an immediate fix since October 23, when the natural gas leak was discovered from a ruptured well at the 3,600-acre field in the hills above the north San Fernando Valley.
The governor declared an emergency last month, and several public agencies are investigating the leak and have ordered the company to stop it.
"When state regulators determine the plug is solid and the well is not leaking, they will declare it killed," he said.
However, the task of plugging the well about 1.6 miles below ground is mired in uncertainties: the relief well could miss its target; it could take a long time to pump in the mud and fluid; and the overall process may not stanch the leak, he said.
"To be clear, it is unknown how long their 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", said Gareth Lacy, deputy press secretary for Brown.
SoCalGas Vice President Gillian Wright cautioned that the outlined plan was tentative and several steps had to be taken before it could be put in place.
Councilman Mitch Englander said the agreement was reached before anyone knew the scale of the leak's effects, which has now led to more than 4,000 households and two schools relocating from the Porter Ranch area. It hasn't provided a cost update since.
"While we recognize that neither the criminal charges nor the civil lawsuits will offer the residents of Los Angeles County a complete solution, it is important that Southern California Gas Co.be held responsible for its criminal actions", District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a written statement.