Family at wit’s end after methane leak forces them out of home

PONCA CITY, Okla. – Chris Wall and his family miss the simple things in life.

“I just want to move on. I want to come home. I want to sleep in my bed.” Chris said.

While the Oklahoma Corporation Commission investigates a methane gas leak around their home, his family of six has been living out of a motel room for the last 22 days.

Right now readings in their front yard are not harmful, but alarming enough for Oklahoma Natural Gas to shut off their gas since methane is so flammable. Chris says ONG crews have been coming out since 2006 when high levels were first detected.

“They’re telling me I won’t have gas until I got zero readings for 5 consecutive days.” Chris said. “Is that going to happen 7 years from now? I really doubt it. And it’s hard.”

The family visits their home a little bit every day, to watch TV, check on their pets, pack the next day’s clothes, and do laundry.

“Everyday I go ‘how much longer can we do this?’ And all I can tell everybody is ‘one day at a time.’” Sherry Wall said. “And we’re on day 22. And we know for a fact it’s going to be another 7 days.”

The investigation to find the leak has been turned over to the Corporation Commission. They have been doing everything they can to locate the source of the gas so they can plug it and get the Walls back in their home. They admit it is a slow process and the source of the leak is proving elusive.

Matt Skinner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said “If it is a well, and an old abandoned well for which there is no responsible party, we can plug it. And we have a specific fund that’s set aside to do that.”

Until then, it is a life of uncertainty.

“We’re all up in limbo.” Sherry said. “And it doesn’t seem like there’s any end in sight.”

“There’s no end to it.” Chris said. “It’s my home, and I want to give my family a home.”

One silver lining is that Oklahoma Natural Gas, the Red Cross, and Philips 66 have all stepped in to pay for their motel room.