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Negotiations with South Sioux City Hinge on City's Relationship with Big Ox Energy

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 new plant.

"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."

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