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Residents expected home soon after evacuation

Eleven families were evacuated from Crump Lane Thursday after anincident caused an oil well in the area to release a mixture ofcarbon dioxide and salt water into the atmosphere.

Crews were on the scene Thursday night and into Friday morning,working to secure the breach so that a total of 25 people can beallowed to return home soon, officials said. Evacuees stayed inhotel rooms overnight.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidofficials were expected to begin taking evacuees back to theirhomes around lunch time Friday. He said they would be accompaniedby environmental officials, who will do one last check on the airquality in the areas.

Galey said the carbon dioxide injector on one of the oil wellson California Road and Crump Lane blew out at 1:25 p.m. Thursdayduring a well workover, venting carbon dioxide and salt water intothe environment.

“There was a well control incident during a well workover,”Denbury District Manager Billy Biggers said at the scene Thursday.”Currently primarily CO2, mixed with salt water, is being releasedinto the environment uncontrolled.”

Contractors had the well under control by 9:07 Thursday night,Biggers said Friday morning.

“The environmental impact is over, but we still have some thingsto do,” he said.

Biggers said Denbury’s first priority was to take care of thosewho live in the area and were affected by the incident.

“Public safety is our primary concern,” he said. “We’ve been incontact with the families, giving them updates and meeting withthem in the evening and the morning to keep them up with thesituation.”

Galey said he and representatives of Denbury met Friday morningwith the families before beginning to get them re-situated in theirhomes.

“There is no active release from the well at this time. ButDenbury just has the public’s interest and safety concerns, andthey didn’t want to let the public return until everything is safeat the well site,” he said.

Responders, including the Mississippi Emergency ManagementAgency, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, theDepartment of Health, United States Environmental Services, theLincoln County Sheriff’s Department, and the Loyd Star VolunteerFire Department set up incident command at Damascus Baptist Churchon California Road. They later moved to a location closer to thewell site.

Galey said the move was made to clear all the emergency vehiclesfrom public roads and to make the process safer for emergencyworkers.

“Denbury, along with the local and state agencies we workedwith, set up under a unified command system to handle thisincident, and it went extremely well,” Biggers said.

Biggers said the well workover will continue as planned, and theinvestigation is ongoing to determine what exactly caused theincident.