Cassie Spencer said she nearly "had a cow" when she returned home one day and saw her yard sprinkled with little red flags, like land mine markers in a war zone. Her 5-year-old daughter was playing in the midst of them. The family property had become a methane field.
The cause: two Chesapeake gas wells 3,000 feet away that she never saw and doesn't profit from had somehow been sending methane onto her property and into her water, and onto her neighbors' properties on Paradise Road in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania. Testing by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) traced the methane to Chesapeake wells but the company has denied responsibility.
The Spencers' house, once valued at $150,000, is now worth $29,000. They have a methane monitor in their basement, a methane water filtration system in a backyard shed. They leave the door open when they take showers because with no bathroom windows they are afraid the house could blow up.
Their neighbors were forced to evacuate once already because of high methane levels. In the middle of their yard, a shaft resembling a shrunken flagpole vents gas from their wellhead. Next to the doorway, a huge "water buffalo" storage container, a signature imprint of the collateral damage brought on by gas drilling, sits like a bloated child's pool, filled with water, not fit for drinking.