Ohio: Fracking Leads to Cracks in Home Foundation and Water Contamination

Fracking Leads to Cracks in Home Foundation and Water Contamination by Jane Mundy, February 21, 2014, Lawyers and Settlements
Garrettsville, OH: Shortly after the Mountaineer Keystone Company started drilling for natural gas, Beckie and her neighbors discovered the repercussions of fracking. “We found cracks in our walls and ceilings and then our water was contaminated – we were lighting it on fire,” says Beckie, who is now looking into the possibility of filing a fracking lawsuit against the oil company. The Mountaineer Keystone oil company erected a rig to drill for natural gas in the corn field across the street from Beckie and they started drilling in August 2012. “We invited [Mountaineer Keystone representatives] in to investigate and videotape but they refused,” says Beckie. “In November they came into our homes and they could see the damage – there were even cracks in our fireplaces and foundation walls. But they wouldn’t help with any of the costs incurred by the damage.”

Beckie says that five families are within 1,500 feet of the newly drilled gas well and none of them can use their water wells due to contamination with methane and arsenic. “Our water was first tested by the oil company four days after they started drilling and they said it was normal. After the contamination started and we were lighting our water on fire, we phoned the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They tested our water and their initial report showed water levels off the charts with methane and arsenic: our levels were three times the legal limit.

“The Department started the investigation on our behalf in October. They set up seismic equipment to test vibrations in the ground and they shut down all drilling operations on the Thursday. They did the testing on the following Tuesday, but over the weekend, Mountaineer Keystone fixed all the problems on their rig: they put rubber pads under their compressors; they fixed the exhaust so it wasn’t so loud, and they did other little tricks so that the vibration meter wouldn’t pick up such high levels…” Needless to say, Mountaineer Keystone got the “seal of approval” from the Department.

“Mountaineer Keystone stopped all communication with us some time ago and now the Ohio Department of Natural Resources won’t return any of our phone calls,” says Beckie, whose family has lived in their three-bedroom “dream home” in Garrettsville for the past 11 years. But their dream turned into a nightmare when the hydraulic fracturing began. When Beckie’s husband died, she planned to sell their home and move to Florida, but now she wonders if anyone will buy it.

Allen Klaiber, assistant economics professor at Ohio State University, has investigated home values that have been negatively affected by fracking. He found that the average home value in a rural area was “about $150,000 in value and if you were located within one mile and six months of an active well drilling, or well pad operation going on, we found a negative impact of over $8,000.” [Emphasis added]

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