In 30 days Exxon will stop paying for evacuated Northwoods residents to stay in temporary accommodations, company spokesman Aaron Stryk said Monday.
That deadline applies to the 11 property owners whose homes have been cleared as safe for reentry by the Mayflower oil spill response’s unified command, made up of local and federal government officials.
It was reported in late July that the company had a cutoff point of Sept. 1 for the residents, and Stryk said then that the decision was put off or reversed and that each property and evacuated homeowner would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
On Monday, he said the company is letting the evacuated residents know again that since the homes have been declared safe for reentry, “they can return home while they finalize or evaluate their options.”
Stryk said most owners of the 11 homes declared safe for reentry have received a purchase offer from Exxon.
“We’re about to start engaging in settlement discussions, not just with these, but with all 22 evacuated residents, and hopefully we’ll arrive at a settlement,” Stryk said.
But negotiations haven’t moved yet, he said, and “that’s why we’re reaching out to them today.”
Stryk said special circumstances where assistance could continue would be for residents who have a lease that hasn’t yet expired.
“Those who have leases ending in October, early November, we’ll listen and accommodate them,” Stryk said.
Some will receive an extension, he said, and some will not.
“Many have already received their purchase offers, and as far as a settlement — it’s their personal choice to settle with us or pursue other legal avenues,” Stryk said. “The idea is based on the fact that these homes are safe to return to, and it’s not just us saying that. That’s unified command, the (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) and the (Environmental Protection Agency.)”
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)