Following the displaced residents of South Sioux City’s refusal to
accept the city’s settlement offer, David Domina, the attorney representing
13 of the families along with attorney Brian Buckmeier, says that future
negotiations between the parties depend on what the city plans to do regarding
their ties to the company responsible for the noxious gas leak, Big Ox Energy.
“The city has to rein Big Ox in or cut Big Ox off,” said Domina.
These residents have been unable to return home since October of 2016 after
a new sewer line constructed by Big Ox Energy reportedly began releasing
hydrogen sulfide gas into over 30 homes. While about a dozen families
have been able to safely return home, another dozen or so remain in the
hotel rooms they booked to keep a roof over their heads.
The city offered these residents a settlement on Monday, February 13 which
they rejected at the advice of their attorneys. By refusing the offer,
these residents are not paying for their hotel rooms and other living
expenses previously covered by Big Ox Energy.
While Domina said that he believes the initial proposal offered by the
city came with good intentions, they need to be prepared to come to the
table not as the mediator, but as a party ready to participate in mediation.
"It's altogether 100 percent obvious that this problem is not
remotely fixed," he said. "This problem has to be solved before
it can be negotiated."
Both the city and Big Ox Energy contend that the main issue is faulty plumbing,
but Domina resists the idea that the blame should rest solely on the shoulders
of the existing infrastructure. These homes were inhabited for years with
no issues, that that all changed when the energy company opened their
"Big Ox produces so much pressure when it releases its product that
that product blows sewage and sewer gases upstream through toilets, through
traps, through kitchen sinks, and into homes," he said. "No
house was built to resist that kind of industrial discharge of sewage."