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Drilling causes pain in Nelson

residents say work at well site damaged homes, disrupted lives

By Mike sever | staff writer Published: November 26, 2012 4:00 AM
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Before property owners lease their land for oil and gas drilling, two Nelson Township homeowners are saying they should take steps to protect themselves.

"They better take pictures (of their walls) and get their water tested" before drilling starts, said Beckie Dean.

And they should consider what they may be inflicting on themselves and their neighbors, said Natalie Baker.

The two live next to each other on Frazier Road where a well was drilled over several months this summer. Both said they've experienced weeks of sleepless nights all because of noise and vibration from the drilling done by a new oil and gas firm, Mountaineer Keystone. The horizontal fracture well went in about 1,500 feet away from their homes and the drilling went on night and day for weeks.

"You could feel the vibration while trying to sleep," Baker said. She said she could see the glass in her windows vibrating. Dean said she could hear the "wump-wump-wump" of the mud pump and the air drive drill all night long. She said she believes the crews had taken off the mufflers from equipment so it could be worked harder.

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"It was like having a helicopter sit overhead," Dean said.

She said repeated complaints about the noise and cracks to her walls she made to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were fruitless until she called Gov. John Kasich's office.

ODNR "said (the drillers) weren't doing anything illegal," Dean said. Contacts from ODNR were not available Friday.

She also emailed the oil company, asking what they were going to do to repair the damage to her home. Last week she got a reply, saying the company would look into her problems.

After weeks of pushing by Dean, the well firm finally came out to do sound tests. But the tests were made irrelevant because the weekend before the test, the drillers put mufflers back on their equipment, put rubber isolation pads under the generators and erected a 32-foot-high sound wall inside the original 20-foot tall wall.

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Dean said she was lucky. She had taken pictures of the inside of her house in June, before drilling began, showing there were no cracks. But that changed when drilling started. Foundation walls and plasterboard walls and ceilings in their homes have cracked. Each crack in Dean's house is marked with the date it appeared. Also, the two-sided stone fireplace in Dean's home cracked, letting rain into the home.

Dean said she'd never had a problem until drilling started.

"This is an 11-year-old house. We went way above and beyond code," she said. Also, Dean and Baker found out their homeowners insurance would not cover the damage from the drilling.

Dean said she got someone to repair the fireplace, but they don't want to do it until the drilling is done.

That's a problem, because there are more oil and gas wells and injection wells slated to go in on the property across from Dean and Baker.

"This is going to take 10 years," Dean said. "Our lives are going to be on hold for 10 years?"

Dean said she's not against well drilling. She and her late husband worked in the industry for 30 years, maintaining oil and gas wells.

"Gas and oil drilling built my house," she said. But she wants others to be aware before they sign a lease. People need to protect themselves by documenting their home's condition before drilling, she said.

"If you don't have it, you've got nothing to go on," Dean said. She also recommended people get their water tested. She said Mountaineer Keystone did not give them enough notice to have their wells tested.

Baker wants property owners to know what they could be inflicting on their neighbors.

"People need to know what they are signing. There's nothing to enforce. This is what you will have to endure," she said.

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anonymous Nov 27, 2012 4:40 PM

I may not live near the alleged offense but as an American consumer of gas and gas related products I am tired of the cost that consumers and investors pay to accommodate these complaining hypocrites. Have the guts to return your oil and gas money, divest your property, and drop out of the 21st Century. Why should thousands of American service people die to protect your right to foreign oil so you can live in luxury, complain about noise, vibrations, and cracks in the wall" and expect us to pay more to drive our cars and live in our houses? Please be part of the solution not part of the problem.

anonymous Nov 26, 2012 11:27 AM

FYI Justa since I have no idea if you are aware of the fact that much of Nelson pretty much sits on top of huge stone formations such as those found at Nelson Ledges State Park, and that this particular area has been one of the hardest places to drill water wells in depending on your exact location. Here at my house you will hit solid rock anywhwre from just below the surface to about a foot or two down anywhere on the property. So vibration can be a major issue here in Nelson. When they did their survey of the area they had to know what they were getting in to here. I too am not anti-fracking other than for the fact that these companies only need the rights to less that 50% of the 600+ square acres needed to allow them to drill, and as far as I am concerned that is an invasion upon MY private property rights. It should be more like 100% and that would guarantee drilling in a non-residential area then more than likely. These corporations are not restricted enough, and I don't care what you, the EPA, or the ODNR say about it. This crap is getting way out of hand already.

anonymous Nov 26, 2012 11:25 AM

Gee, I wonder what's going on behind all of the walls? Maybe we could ask the security guard in the guard shack who's posted 24/7. Come On ! This isn't anything like the conventional drilling that has gone on in our communities over the last 30 years. This new technology is much more aggresive, requiring more of Ohio's precious water resources and producing much more bio-waste. Ohio is the #1 dumping ground (injection wells)for all the States around us! If Becky wants to find larger cracks have her check the heads of the authorites at ODNR!

anonymous Nov 26, 2012 10:53 AM

@JustaThought: Several flaws in your commentary

1. She's not anti-fracking. ""Gas and oil drilling built my house," she said.

2. She has documented proof of before and after evidence.

One could also think that she had those first year cracks, which are very common and usually fixed by the builder(had a relative who that is what he did) The aricle didn't specify.

The article does not say if other neighbors were interviewed about damage to their properties or if they have noticed or even care.

The company has stated they will:"look into her problems". This may resolve the issue if the company finds it was caused by them and they do the right thing. Only time will tell.

anonymous Nov 26, 2012 5:23 AM

Wow, what are the odds. With all the wells drilled in Ohio you are the 2 who have cracks in your walls from it. Also since even the vertical wells; typically much shallower, are fractured I guess this makes the damage even that much rarer.

Also you say your home is 11 years old and you didn't have any cracks in the walls until now? As a former general contractor I'd say no matter how much above and beyond code you went that would be bordering imposable. If you didn't have any cracks to fix by the end of the 1st year even on poured walls I'd find it very hard to believe.

Sorry but sounds like the same baloney we've been hearing for a while now from the local anti fracking group