Citizens of Granville, PA can set their tap water on fire

Illustration for article titled Citizens of Granville, PA can set their tap water on fire

Since June of last year, Granville, Pennsylvania's Sherry Vargson has had to cook using water, not from her tap, but from a five gallon jug.

Why, you ask? Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Vargson's tap water contains so much methane gas that when she lights a match beside her faucet, a gigantic flame bursts into her sink. That's why.

The WSJ's Mustafa Abdulaziz writes:

Many water supplies in northern Pennsylvania have long contained detectable levels of methane, because of poorly constructed water wells and the unusual geologic features here. But the contamination in Ms. Vargson's existing well is among the first cases that state regulators have attributed to natural-gas drilling.


Pennsylvania sits on top of some of the country's most gas-rich shale in the United States, making it a veritable gold mine for companies looking to harvest natural gas by deep-drilling and fracking. But stories like Vargson's beg the question: couldn't this energy be harvested without the unfortunate side effect of, you know, setting people's kitchens aflame?

[Via The Wall Street Journal]
Image via WSJ

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I would be interested in how/why they attributed this to natural gas drilling (which by the way does not necessarily mean fracking). Occurences like this are almost always due to imporperly vented ground water wells in areas with large amounts of natural gas in the soil. Venting the well relieves the problem. Fracking occurs so far underground that there are dozens of layers of rock between where it occurs and groundwater. The gas can't escape unless the drillers really really really screwed something up. If it could escape, there would be no need to drill down that deep in the first place.

The hate heaped on fracking is a bit excessive. Obviously it is not as harmless as the companies want you to think, but then again it is not as dangerous or world ending as documentaries like Gasland say either.