Federal lawsuit filed over drilling in Granger Township

Source: The Medina-Gazette, March 15, 2012
By: Jennifer Pignolet

Two Granger Township couples filed federal lawsuits against Landmark 4 LLC seeking damages for contamination of their properties they allege is from hydraulic gas and oil drilling in the area.

On Tuesday, Mark and Sandra Mangan and William and Stephanie Boggs filed separate suits in U.S. District Court.

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined the two State Road homes pose a public health hazard because of methane gas in the water lines.

According to the lawsuits, Landmark 4, began operating two gas wells at Allardale Park, about a half-mile from the two properties, in 2008.

A news release from Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co. LPA, the law firm representing the couples, said its clients contend they have lost value on their homes as well as quality of life as a result of fracking gone wrong.

“The Plaintiffs charge that Landmark 4 LLC was negligent in the drilling, construction and operation of the Allard Wells and allowed pollutants, including fracking fluid, to be discharged into the ground or into the waters near Plaintiffs’ homes and water wells,” the release said. “The lawsuits further allege that the plaintiffs’ water wells have been contaminated, and that they have been and continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals, including barium, manganese and strontium.”

Sandra Mangan said Wednesday the families were deferring all comments to their attorneys.

Scott Simpkins, one of the lawyers, said they had no comments beyond the press release.

A call to Landmark 4 was not returned Wednesday.

A drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has caused controversy in Medina County and throughout the nation as companies look to tap into potential oil and natural gas in the Utica and Marcellus shales about 6,000 feet underground.

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, particles and chemicals underground at high pressure to break up shale and release natural gas.

The lawsuits also seek a “preliminary and permanent injunction barring Landmark 4 LLC from engaging in the acts cited by the complaints, as well as abatement of the nuisances, unlawful conduct, violations and damages created by those acts,” according to the press release. “It also seeks, among other things, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and the cost of future health monitoring.”

According to the Boggs’ suit, the family lives “in constant fear of future physical illness.”

According to a letter from Health and Human Services to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Granger Fire Department investigated an odor of natural gas coming from the wellhead behind the Mangans’ home in November.

The area was measured for oxygen levels and the level of explosivity, referred to as LEL. According to the letter, an area is considered hazardous if the level of explosivity is above 10 percent at the surface of the wellhead.

The well behind the Mangans’ home was reading 47.4 percent, and the well behind the Boggs’ home was 34.7 percent, according to the documents.

“The high LEL levels at the wellhead suggest that significant levels of explosive gases could be released during periods of water use and the accumulation of gases in the indoor air,” the document said, adding the conditions “pose a public health hazard.”

In January, Mark Mangan said he installed a cistern to run rainwater through his house, which cost about $15,000, but all the pipes and plumbing would need to be replaced before it would be safe to drink water out of the faucet.

Because of financial constraints, their neighbors were not able to take the same precautions, Bill Boggs has said.

He has a filter on his water system, but his family still showers in the contaminated water.

“You think about it, and then you start stressing about it,” Boggs said in January. “It consumes you.”

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