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After 3 weeks, evacuation remains in place for Karnes County families

It’s been roughly three weeks since the South Texas oil well in Karnes County ejected toxic gas into the air, and some families remain displaced as decontamination efforts continue.

On a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of May, an oil well owned by Encana Corp exploded and shot hydrogen sulfide gas into the air, forcing an evacuation of several homes. Roughly 20 people were evacuated from their homes as a precautionary measure while Encana employees worked to shut down the well.

Now, five families are still waiting to return home as Encana continues to decontaminate their houses, according to Doug Hock, a spokesman for the Canadian-based company. Three of the families are being hosted at a local motel and are provided food every day and a per diem by Encana.

In a recent report from the National publication Inside Climate News, Texan Leonard Cordova elaborated the impact of displacement on his family. The report noted that Cordova, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter have shared a hotel room since May 19. Their three indoor cats are staying with them. The family’s dogs are at a friend’s house, and their three outdoor cats are still living on the Cordova’s property, which is across the street from the well that blew. Cordova stated that to his knowledge, their home was one of the most contaminated.

“They’re not allowing us to go back to our property,” Cordova told reporters. “They have guards out front, and if we try to go back, they call the police. We left with nothing but the clothes we had on. All my daughter had was a shirt and a diaper.”

Encana has stated that any valuable items requested by the family could be retrieved by workers, but Cordova has told them he’s uncomfortable with the idea of strangers going through his personal belongings. In addition, Cordova has requested for temporary housing to escape the claustrophobic conditions on a hotel room but feels it’s unlikely due to the housing crunch from the latest oil boom.

Retired Vietnam veteran Lucas Jasso, who lives part-time in Corpus Christi, recently traveled to his property while accompanied by an Encana representative. Jasso saw firsthand the fallout from the well leak.

“I felt like crying seeing the mess spewed by the well,” he wrote in an email. “My [cattle’s] grass was yellow, leaves off my trees were falling and on the ground.”

Jasso’s cattle have been relocated for the time being. But even with Encana’s accommodations, some of the residents are stating this is just one of a long lists of inconveniences produced by the Eagle Ford oil boom. Noise, traffic and environmental concerns have troubled folks like Cordova and Jasso for some years now.

“Personally I never really liked” the industry, said Cordova, who worked for an oil and gas contractor before getting laid off when oil prices tanked. “Before all this stuff happened, it was nice and quiet…Now it’s just nonstop traffic, 18-wheelers, loud and polluted. It’s not what it was.”

Read the full story on the on-going well story in Karnes County here; “Weeks After Texas Oil Well Explosion, Families Still Can’t Go Home.”

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