Last month, a Portage County family received an unwelcome Christmas gift: contaminated water that catches fire and caused an explosion in their kitchen. "About six months ago, Mountaineer Keystone Oil and Gas Company put in a drilling rig in a field catty-corner from the Kline house," WKYC reports. The company paid for an EPA-certified test of the water, which showed an "acceptable" level of methane. When drilling began in December, however, the water conditions changed noticeably. "Around Christmas, the family noticed their water started fizzing. When Jason's wife, Debby, lit a candle near the sink, they learned something was very wrong. 'Oh, I was so scared. It just was a huge explosion, the entire sink went up to the ceiling,' Debby says."
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources tested the Kline's water again, and found the methane level had nearly doubled, but was nevertheless still below "hazardous" levels. Additionally, the water contained chloride levels "nearly twice" the limit of what is considered safe. In an email to WKYC, ODNR wrote, ""Methane is naturally occurring in this portion of the state, and the water well in question was found to be drilled into shale, which may have led to these increased levels. At this time, the investigation is ongoing."
The Kline's, meanwhile, have switched to bottled water for cooking, drinking, and providing to their pets, but they still use the well water for bathing. "We're putting our kids in the bathtub every night in this explodable water. We don't know the consequences of sitting in gas water, but we just don't have a choice," Debby Kline said.
Just last week, ODNR approved four new Utica shale permits in Portage County, all of which were filed by Moutaineer Keystone. There are currently 485 active drilling permits in northeast Ohio, including 199 wells that have already been drilled.
Here's video of this phenomenon playing out elsewhere: