- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) - South Sioux City residents who were forced to leave their homes by a horrible odor from a nearby energy plant said they’re concerned that one resident was recently sent back to his home before levels of hydrogen sulfide gas were deemed safe.

Chris Cornell was among the residents displaced from his home on Oct. 28 due to the odor from the Big Ox Energy. City administrator Lance Hedquist told Cornell he could return to his home last week, before initial tests results had been processed, the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/2hqXReJ ) reported.

“I was shocked,” Cornell told the City Council on Monday.

Hedquist said he thought the home was safe based on discussion with other people working on the home, but Cornell said alarms in his home showed gas levels were more the double the recommended range. Gas levels should be lower than 7.17 parts per billion before residents can safely return to their homes, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Other residents also expressed frustration to the City Council on Monday, saying they feared their hotel stays could be cut short like Cornell’s situation, even though the odor problem hasn’t been resolved. About 14 residents are still staying at hotels.

“I’m literally scared that you’re going to pick up the phone and you’re going to call me and you’re going to tell me, ‘Oh we were in your house and it doesn’t smell bad so tonight’s your last night that you’re staying at the Marina,’” resident Angela Campbell said.

Mayor Rod Koch assured residents they would not be asked to leave their hotels until their homes were “rock-solid safe.”

City officials aren’t sure how the smell has persisted, but homes near the plant share a sewer line with Big Ox Energy. The company has temporarily halted flows from the plant into the sewer line until the odor problem can be solved.

The city has resumed paying for Cornell’s hotel accommodations in Sioux City. Big Ox will reimburse the city for hotel bills and other out-of-pocket living expenses for residents who needed to vacate their homes.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com


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