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Lawsuit filed for methane in water

April 4, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

CAMERON - Jeremiah Magers believes Chesapeake Energy's fracking led to the methane contamination of his drinking water well, so he is suing the driller for failing to provide an alternative water source.

The case originally filed in Marshall County Circuit Court in February shifted to federal court last week. Magers alleges Chesapeake's failure to provide a fresh water source demonstrates "willful, wanton, intentional, reckless and malicious" behavior, along with "criminal indifference to the obligations it owed to the plaintiffs."

Since 2009, Magers, along with wife Andrea, has been dealing with issues he believes are directly related to Chesapeake's drilling and fracking operations at his residence near Cameron. In 2010, he said he heard heavy natural gas gurgles and detected a mist coming from his water well, so he called 911.

"My water well is now a gas well," Magers said at the time.

Magers previously said his water well became contaminated with methane - and that natural gas began bubbling in Fish Creek - shortly after Chesapeake began fracking at a production site roughly 1,200 feet from Magers' water tank. Chesapeake officials previously confirmed the presence of methane in Magers' water well, but they denied their operations generated the gas.

Magers' complaint reaffirms these allegations, noting "sufficient gas was present that the plaintiffs could ignite both the water and Fish Creek."

"The defendant has failed to provide the plaintiffs an alternate water supply or compensate them for the contamination of their water well and their costs in purchasing water," the complaint further claims. "The plaintiffs had no need to purchase water prior to their water being contaminated."

Chesapeake Senior Director of Corporate Development Stacey Brodak previously said Chesapeake addressed the issues at Magers' property by collecting water samples.

"We let him know that dissolved methane gas was detected in his water sample, and that methane gas may be generated from various sources," Brodak previously said.

Brodak said Chesapeake withdrew its water supply from Magers' home because the company's test results showed the "methane present in the water sample did not match the gas from our oil and gas operations."

West Virginia Office of Oil and Gas Chief James Martin previously confirmed his department has investigated the source of Magers' gas problems, but said the representatives were unable to draw a conclusion regarding the source of the methane. The oil and gas office operates as an arm of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Chesapeake has yet to file a response to Magers' complaint, but Larry Blalock of the Jackson Kelly law firm is listed as the company's counsel for the case. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday, nor could Magers' attorney, Joseph Canestraro. Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said Tuesday the company had no new comment.

 
 

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