Thousands of acres sealed off following blowout at Eagle Ford Shale well

Thousands of acres sealed off following blowout at Eagle Ford Shale well

Thousands of acres of land remain sealed off following a blowout at a natural gas well located belonging to Devon Energy between the Eagle Ford Shale towns of Yorktown and Nordheim.

The accident happened at a Devon Energy natural gas well near Cotton Patch Road and FM 952 in DeWitt County early Friday morning. No injuries were reported but authorities evacuated rural families living within a two-mile radius of the blowout, which sent natural gas and a light form of crude oil known as condensate spewing into the sky and surrounding countryside.

A cause of the accident it not clear but in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Devon Energy reported that the company is working closely with local and state authorities and well-control specialists to cap the well and to minimize damages. The company is providing lodging, meals and other needs to the affected families.

"Safety and environmental protection are our highest priorities during this process," Devon Energy spokesman John Porretto said in a statement. "A number of steps have been taken to contain any fluid runoff at the well site to protect the surrounding environment. We’ll begin assessing any necessary environmental clean-up as soon as it’s safe to do so."

The Yorktown Volunteer Fire Department reported that authorities shut down Cotton Patch Road, FM 952 between State Highway 72 to Cabeza Road and FM 2656 in response to the accident. The two-mile radius is equivalent to more than 8,000 acres of land.

Numerous residents and neighbors expressed concern on Facebook about their safety and the safety of their livestock. The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil and natural gas industry, has dispatched an inspector to the site.

Devon has brought in Great White Well Control of Houston to bring the well under control, Railroad Commission officials reported.

Sharon Wilson, a Dallas-based anti-hydraulic fracturing activist with the environmental group Earthworks, said the rural poor continue to pay a heavy price for accidents in the oil fields and that regulators do not enforce the law. There have been at least nine blowouts in Texas through July of this year, Railroad Commission records show.

“Devon isn’t Texas’ first repeat offender, or second, despite our state government’s promises of responsible oversight," Wilson said. “Because neither communities nor climate can trust either companies or regulators, the only way to protect the public interest is to keep it in the ground. And for existing facilities, we need strong rules, reliably and transparently enforced.”