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Investigators seek the source of gas in Portage County water well
Investigators believe the methane contamination in a Portage County couple's well is from naturally occurring gas trapped in ground water

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
In The Region:

High levels of methane are showing up the in the water well of a Portage County family after an energy company started drilling nearby.   But WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports, investigators are not rushing to connect the two.



Water well investigation in Portage County

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WKYC-TV is carrying dramatic footage of tap water catching fire at Jason and Debby Kline’s home in Garrettsville.
The Klines contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources last December about the frightening flare-ups and the agency immediately sent an inspector to take samples.  ODNR declined to be interviewed, but in a statement says it is investigating the source of the methane, but believes the gas to be naturally occurring.

The company that drilled the well across the street from the Klines, Pittsburgh-based Mountineer Keystone, paid for testing of the couple's well before drilling began last month, and methane was present then, too, but at lower levels.  Bob Chase, head of petroleum engineering at Marietta College, believes the gas is seeping into the well because the well is drilled into a shallow shale formation that has natural gas mixed with ground water.  He says changes in the water table could account for increased methane migration into the well.

“Removing the water and lowering the pressure causes the natural gas to come out of the shale, so you end up increasing the flow of gas just by removing water from the formation.”

Chase also says a chemical fingerprint of the gas found in the well should determine whether its source is natural or due to nearby drilling.

ODNR has not said whether that testing will be done, but does say if drilling is proven to have impacted ground water, the company is required to provide a new supply.  An across-the-street neighbor from the Klines says his water is fine, and no other neighbors have reported water contamination.

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