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.
"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.
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.