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“This is my last shot,” Two years out of its home, family hopes for fix

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PONCA CITY, Okla. - After 839 days in hotels and rental homes, the state has started construction to flush dangerous methane gas from a Kay County home.

The Corporation Commission has paid Enercon $30,400 to attempt to fix a problem that dates back more than two years.

Yet, as crews work to install a "Vapor Extraction System" beneath the driveway, the man who owns the home isn't exactly excited about the work.

"I fought two years to make this happen, but I feel we came up short with the actions that they're taking on this. A single lateral line is not going to be sufficient," said Chris Walls. "I fought hard for this, and I got shortchanged."

Walls said, in the two years since he was forced out of his home, he's done all the research he could on methane gas.

He's dissatisfied with the approach Enercon is taking and that the company got the bid in the first place.

"I don't know how else to put it. I just don't think it's going to work," he said. "I'm actually kind of disgusted, because this is my last shot because, after this, the OCC is going to be washing its hands of it."

The Corporation Commission tells NewsChannel 4 it's not sure if this is the "last shot" for a fix, because its previous remediation efforts have "never failed."

A spokesman adds the OCC has a good history with Enercon and trusts the company to get results.

Harry Bruster, of Enercon Services, said he too is confident his company can do the job.

He said the company has experience with this kind of "simple solution," though it's never performed this sort of operation on a residence.

"It's pretty rare," he said, noting the setting could pose some challenges. "Pretty much tight quarters trying to get the equipment in and out. You have to have good operators to wiggle their equipment in and not knock anything over."

Work on the home began Monday, with crews digging and plumbing by hand before a contractor moved in.

Wednesday, a backhoe worked to excavate a trench, before putting gravel and pipes underneath.

Sometime next week, solar panels will be installed on the roof of the home to power fans that will effectively vent the methane gas out of the ground.

In two weeks time, the Walls hope to be back in their home, though Chris said he isn't holding his breath, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

"If they can prove me wrong, more power to them," he said.