Health concerns amid oil well burst in Missouri City

MISSOURI CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Families in Fort Bend County have been living with a rotten smell since an oil well burst last week. And they may have to a little while longer.

Eyewitness News reported last week that an oil well blew out and sent a petroleum-like odor into the air over Missouri City.

Wilma White wants answers and she wants them now. She used to work in an oil field, so she wasn't buying it when officials say there's no major health concern.

"Anytime you smell H2S, a very small concentration, it's always worse," she explained.

Air monitoring is going on, but state officials said there is no threat to residents' health. A former investigator with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality disagrees.

"I don't think people were told the whole truth and so I'm concerned there were some misrepresentations made to the public," said Dr. Neil Carman.

Hydrogen Sulfide is the odor emitted from the blowout. The gas lingers around because it's heavier than air. It stays closer to the ground level and is a bigger problem in winter months.

"I'm very concerned that if the children are having headaches than this is more than just an odor problem. This is a toxic air pollution assault on children and possibly even adults."

White says despite living just yards away, no one involved with the spill notified her and neighbors of what happened. Now, she says, they're forced to not only live with a rotten egg smell, but hope and pray their health doesn't decline.

"They need to do something with is. They really do. It's coming through our vent. It is, so how can we rest at night?" she asked.
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SMELLING ROTTEN EGGS? A oil well blow out in Missouri City is the cause, officials say.

The foul smell was only supposed to last 24 to 48 hours, but the Office of Emergency Managment told ABC13 that the snow and moisture kept the fumes from vaporizing quickly.

According to Missouri City, a week later, the clean up work is continuing. Haz Mat Special Services, the company charged with removing contaminated soil from the site, removed all the liquid that was on the ground by Wednesday.

The Railroad Commission of Texas, who's the lead agency working the spill, sent us a statement. It reads in part: "As of this morning, railroad commission staff estimate that cleanup is approximately 80 percent complete, and all crude oil has been removed".

As of Friday, the crews had removed about 1,200 yards of dirt, and still have another 4,000 to 6,000 yards to remove. Once they're done, crews will place fresh soil in the area.

Crews have sprayed the area to reduce the odor. They're also working to prep the area in advance of the rain expected this weekend.

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