Napalm Creek

When Your Home Becomes a Bomb

Feds say 2 State Road homes are health hazard from methane gas

Mark Mangan speaking to a group of Ohio citizens

Mark ManganAudio.mp3

 Mark is a resident of Medina County where he lives

with his wife Sally and spends his time working as

a millwright and volunteering as a firefighter. He

lost his well water for 5 days after a new gas well

was fracked in his area on a nearby property.

When his water returned it was contaminated with

brine, drilling cement, methane gas, and highly

toxic hydrogen sulfide. The gas is now present at

explosive levels and is causing him to constantly

monitor and vent the air in his home to avert a

catastrophe.

The Mangans are sharing their experience as a

warning to other Ohioans. They want to tell what

happens when a driller gets it wrong and how our

state regulators at the ODNR fail to hold the gas

industry to account and offer little help or support

to Ohio citizens hurt by shale development.

 Granger Township residents Mark Mangan, left, and Bill Boggs show the contamination in their well water they said was caused by hydraulic drilling in the area. Explosive levels of natural gas have been measured at wellheads behind their State Road homes. (Gazette photo by Jennifer Pignolet)

Posted by Jennifer Pignolet, January 18, 2012

The Medina County Gazzette

GRANGER TWP. — In 2001, Mark and Sandy Mangan built their dream home on State Road.

More than 10 years later, that dream home is now a potentially explosive nightmare, and Mark Mangan said he believes hydraulic oil and gas drilling in the area is to blame.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined the Mangans’ home and the home of neighbors Bill and Stephanie Boggs pose a public health hazard because of methane gas in the water lines.

“We’re living in a bomb,” said Mangan, a volunteer firefighter.

According to a letter from the department to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Granger Fire Department investigated an odor of natural gas coming from the wellhead behind the Mangans’ home in November.

The area was measured for oxygen levels and the level of explosivity, referred to as an LEL level. According to the letter, an area is considered hazardous if the level of explosivity is above 10 percent at the surface of the wellhead.

The well behind the Mangans’ home was reading 47.4 percent, and the well behind the Boggs’ home was 34.7 percent, according to the documents.

“The high LEL levels at the wellhead suggest that significant levels of explosive gases could be released during periods of water use and the accumulation of gases in the indoor air,” the document said, adding the conditions “pose a public health hazard.”


Less than a mile from the homes are two vertically drilled natural gas wells in Allardale Park.

Medina County Park Director Tom James said the wells were installed in 2008, but it was not the county’s decision to move
forward with the project.

He said the Allard family donated the land to the county on the condition that already signed leases for drilling would be upheld.

The issue of hydraulic drilling, known as fracking, has caused controversy in Medina County and throughout the nation as companies look to tap into potential oil and natural gas in the Utica and Marcellus shales about 6,000 feet underground.

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, particles and chemicals underground at high pressure to break up shale and release natural gas.

When asked about a possible connection between the two wells and the health hazards of two township homes, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources provided an email response that said the wells were investigated extensively and there is no connection.

A third, abandoned well across the street from the Mangans’ house, however, may be to blame, according to the ODNR.

Mark Mangan said the abandoned well was sealed in 1966, but he believes a builder cracked the top of it when a house was built in the area in the 1970s, causing gas to leak from the well. A diversion pipe was installed to ensure the gas did not pose a threat, he said.

“That’s what they’re saying is leaking into our wells, but we’ve been here since 2001 and never had that problem until the day they drilled the (Allardale) wells up there,” he said.

The Allardale wells were drilled during the week of Sept. 25, 2008, according to the letter from the health department. On Sept. 29, the Mangans’ and Boggs’ wells were dry. When water returned five days later, it was “‘salty and cloudy’ at both residences,” the letter said.

The Mangans have since installed a cistern to run rain water through their house, which cost about $15,000, and Mark Mangan said all the pipes and plumbing would need to be replaced before it will be safe to drink water out of the faucet.

“We had to put our own procedures into place to make sure we were safe,” he said.

Before he installed the cistern, he said, water that came out of the faucet was flammable, and whenever it was running, the room had to be ventilated to avoid an explosion.

“If I would have gone into my bathroom, lit a candle, turned on my showers and my sinks and closed the doors, in 20 minutes, I think my house would have exploded,” Mangan said.

Bill Boggs said he has not been able to take the same precautions because of financial constraints.

He has a filter on his water system, but his family still showers in the contaminated water.

“You think about it, and then you start stressing about it,” Boggs said. “It consumes you.”

Both said they have dealt with an increase in health issues since their water problems began, from headaches to irregular heartbeats.

The Department of Health’s recommendations included resealing the abandoned well in addition to more testing inside their homes when water is running.

Mangan and Boggs said they have not heard any updates from the ODNR on what will be done now that the EPA has been notified of the health hazard.

The email from the ODNR stated: “Based on new data, the department will work with local officials to reevaluate the orphan well and determine a course of action.”

In the meantime, Mangan said he is spreading the word about the potential hazards of drilling.

“I want to protect us,” he said. “We need protection, and ODNR’s not doing it.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.


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