A week after being displaced by a blown carbon dioxide injection well, a majority of the roughly 500 displaced Gaines County residents should be able to return to their homes by Tuesday evening.
According to Russell Martin, Chief Financial Officer with Tabula Rasa Energy, LLC in a Monday afternoon press conference at the old Seminole Junior High School gymnasium, repair crews associated with repairing the blown injection well were able to secure a new wellhead and introduce other preventative measures into the well to stop the flow of dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). A gas, which is harmful to human and animal life and resulted in the mass evacuation of a roughly two mile area surrounding the well site, located near the intersection of CR 107-I and CR 102, four miles east of the Seminole community.
“We were able to successfully place a new wellhead on today, and it appears it is going to hold,” said Martin in Monday afternoon’s press conference. “We also were able to pump mud down into the hole as a measure to help alleviate the pressure.”
Martin, in releasing the news, also cautioned that their planned returned home on Tuesday was contingent on how the repair held during the overnight hours.
“We are going to continue to monitor the well overnight, and if it all goes well, we will begin the process of allowing you back into your homes (Tuesday) morning,” said Martin, who encouraged residents to stay away from their homes during the overnight hours, as emergency crews still have the area blocked off and closely monitored as repair crews watch over the newly installed wellhead.
Tabula Rasa, LLC officials handed out informational packets regarding how the return process would take place on Tuesday morning, and fielded questions from concerned, displaced residents about different issues related to how residents can begin the clean-up process at their respective residences.
Martin reminded local residents that initially, displaced residents will be escorted to their homes by local first responders or independent contractors hired by the company to serve as air quality monitors for H2S.
“You will go to your homes and (the independent contractors) will check for H2S to ensure it is safe enough for you to enter before we will allow you to personally enter your homes,” said Martin. “We want to take every precaution we can to make sure your homes and all the buildings on your property are completely safe before you can fully return. If you can’t return to your homes, we will continue to assist you with providing hotel rooms until a time that it is safe for you to return.”
Tabula Rasa Energy officials, again in Monday’s meeting, reassured displaced residents they would address any other issues or concerns brought up during the return process, which included questions of professional cleaning assistance, the possible removal of dead pets/livestock to replacement of potentially spoiled food.
“We will work with you anyway we can,” said Martin.
Company officials told those in attendance at Monday’s meeting that they were continuing to investigate the cause of the well blowout, which forced the evacuation of residents on CR 107, CR 107-I, CR 109 and CR 102 in the early morning hours of Dec. 8. No injuries or human fatalities were reported as a cause of the blowout, which is being monitored by the Texas Railroad Commission.
At last count, 12 different local and area agencies assisted in the evacuation and well monitoring/repair process during the course of the six day event.