Fracking Ohio Health Hazard

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Three years after drilling, a federal health agency has found that natural gas in Ohio’s Medina County well water is potentially explosive, according to the Beacon Journal.  The agency says potentially explosive levels of natural gas at two houses in Medina County are a public health threat. The problems in the two drinking water wells appear linked to the nearby drilling of two natural gas wells in 2008, says the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That news contradicts repeated statements from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on the connection between the drilling and problems at the two houses at State and Remsen roads.

“We are the victims of fracking… and natural gas drilling gone wrong,” said Mark Mangan, one of the affected homeowners. On Sept. 29, 2008, Mangan and wife, Sandy, found that their drinking water well had gone dry at the same time that a company was drilling for natural gas at Allardale Park about a half mile away. When the water returned to the Mangans’ well in five days, it had an unpleasant taste and a rotten-egg scent. It was salty. It bubbled. It contained methane gas and a gray slurry of cement. The Mangans could ignite the gas bubbles in the water from their kitchen sink, similar to what happened in the anti-fracking documentary Gasland. “Yes, we got water back, but it wasn’t our water,” said the 49-year-old Mangan. “Our water was gone.” Neighbors William and Stephanie Boggs had similar well problems that began one day after the Mangans’. They told federal officials they continue to use the well water. The Granger Township case is one of a small but growing number of cases in the United States where contamination problems have been linked by a federal agency to natural gas drilling.

In a Dec. 22 letter to the U.S. EPA, the CDC agency said both families are still at risk from potentially dangerous natural gas levels. The agency concluded that “the current conditions are likely to pose a public health threat.” The agency looked at natural gas levels detected last November by the Granger Township Fire Department. The levels of explosivity were 34.7 and 47.4 percent at wells at the two houses, the agency said. Hazardous conditions exist when levels surpass 10 percent, the health agency said. The gas levels in and around the Mangans’ house have been so high that firefighters were called several times. Columbia Gas shut off service for a time because of the likelihood of an explosion. “We are constantly in danger,” Mangan said. “Our house was a bomb waiting to go off.” He said the explosivity levels inside the house have been as high as 20 percent, far above the federal guideline of 1 percent.  (Source: Beacon Journal, 1/17/12)

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