Residents Back In Their Homes After Well Is Finally Capped - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/4/07-Smith County

Residents Back In Their Homes After Well Is Finally Capped

Cleanup is underway and the evacuation is over for dozens of East Texans, put out of their homes from a massive natural gas leak. Thursday morning, crews were finally able to close off the well near FM 850 outside New Chapel Hill. It had been shooting natural gas in the air since Tuesday. 

"We were able to slip the equipment we needed over the existing pipe that was sticking up, secure it, close it in, and in effect, restore the well to being shut in," says Sammson Executive Vice President D.J. Ponville.

Samson, the company who owns the well, says just this morning crews were finally able to close off the leak.

"Get everything cleaned up and then eventually we'll start pulling the tubing out which was the original plan and we'll start piping cement plugs, which is the process you use to abandon the well," Ponville says.

After this, the well will no longer be a well. Once cleanup is done, it will be closed for good. 

Now able to get back onto his property, evacuated resident Carter Elliott has been unloading the horses he quickly had to round up.

"When they said we needed to leave we just left as quick as we could and took what we could with us," Carter says.

But he didn't get all his animals. Some dogs, and one horse had to stay behind, having him worried for the past two days. But the company says the leak should not leave any lasting environmental effects.

"We don't anticipate that any animals or livestock were impacted by this. There was, as you can see, a little bit of discoloration on the leaves, we're assessing that, as well as the immediate area, but like I said, the scope of the impact area was minimal," Ponville says.

And Thursday night, residents are sleeping easy, knowing this well at least, won't turn into a gushing geyser again.

The company says as crews are cleaning up Friday as well, they will also resume their initial work of abandoning the well, permanently closing it off.

Tracy Watler, Reporting

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