Appalachian Basin

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try and Try Again

That seems to be the motto of Granger Township residents Mark and Sandra Mangan.  After having a previous lawsuit dismissed, the Mangans are now trying their luck in federal court.

They have been rebuffed by the Medina County Court of Common Pleas and multiple state agencies, whose findings were largely corroborated by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. So now, the Mangans are putting a full court press on the Ohio media in the hopes this will compel a federal court to consider their case.

The Facts of the Mangan Case

Testing conducted by ODNR, and reviewed by ATSDR, showed no contaminants  in the Mangan’s water well that pose a threat to human health.  ATSDR found:

Results of testing of the well water for inorganic and VOC parameters in November 2008 and May 2009 do not indicate a health concern about water consumption at this time. (page 3)

That finding was similar to what ODNR found in their earlier review that stated:

The inorganic water sample results did not indicate oilfield contaminants, the volatile organic chemicals, which consists of parameters that are byproducts of hydrocarbon or petroleum product and chlorinated solvents byproducts, were not detected. (page 2)

In Spite of Data Showing Otherwise, Mangan’s Claim Exposure to Hazardous Materials

Despite these facts, according to a recent article appearing in the Medina County Gazette, the Mangans “allege that [their] water wells have been contaminated, and that they have been, and continue to be, exposed to hazardous chemicals, including barium, manganese and strontium.”

While Ohio does not have drinking water quality standards for private water wells, the Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) uses Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Contaminant Levels established by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine whether water is safe for human consumption.

These levels are authorized under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). If a constituent is deemed harmful to public health it is given a Primary Maximum Contaminant Level (PMCL), whereas Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (SMCL) are non-enforceable and are in place to manage aesthetic effects.  According to U.S. EPA:

National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (NSDWRs or secondary standards) are non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water. EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but does not require systems to comply. However, states may choose to adopt them as enforceable standards.

Water tests conducted at the Mangan’s well show no presence of ANY material above maximum contaminant levels, either primary or secondary.  In fact, ODNR’s review of multiple water tests found barium and manganese well below PMCL and SMCL standards.

Tests indicated barium at levels well below what’s deemed safe for consumption.  They found barium at .57 milligrams per liter (mgl), its PMCL as established by U.S. EPA is 2.0 mgl.  A review of the data shows the Mangan’s water supply meets SDWA levels.

What about claims regarding manganese contamination?  ODNR testing showed manganese present in the Mangan’s well at .035 mgl. But what does this mean?  Manganese does not have a PMCL as it does not pose a threat to public health.    However, U.S. EPA does recommend that manganese in drinking water not exceed 0.05 mg/L. According to EPA, this recommendation is to avoid staining of clothing and fixtures

Also, According to ATSDR, manganese is “routinely contained in groundwater” and according to U.S. EPA’s Drinking Water Health Advisory for Manganese:

Manganese is an essential nutrient for humans and animals and adults consume between 0.7 and 10.9 mg/day in the diet, with even higher intakes being associated with vegetarian diets.

A cursory review of this data shows the Mangan’s well contains less manganese than adults consume each day as part of their diet.

Finally, neither ODNR or ATSDR found  strontium in any water samples obtained from the Mangan residence.

Both agencies did find methane in the Mangan’s well, however methane is non-toxic in water, though it can pose a threat when  in confined areas. Both ATSDR and ODNR have indicated that a likely source for the methane in the Mangan’s well is an abandoned natural gas well on a neighbor’s property (Burgess Cole #1), unrelated to Utica Shale development, that was damaged during construction activities. According to ATSDR’s letter:

Another potential source of the gas in the residential wells is a previously abandoned natural gas well (referred to as Burgess Cole #1)… During the November, 2011 inspection by the Granger Fire Department, a damaged area of the vent pipe was noted about 4 feet above ground surface.

For this reason ATSDR recommended the immediate correction of the Burgess Cole #1 as it posed an explosive hazard. According to reports, ODNR is working to correct this matter.

Location, Location, Location

In their December 22, 2012 letter, ATSDR paid close attention to the location of the Mangan and Boggs residence in proximity to the Allard Well.

Both the Mangan and Boggs properties, located adjacent to each other, are removed from the Allard Well by over half a mile.  In between the Allard Well and the Mangan’s home are seven other properties, all closer to the Allard Well, and none of whom have reported any issues with their water quality before, during or after well development.

After reviewing data from two state agencies, a federal agency, and actions by the Medina County Court of Common Pleas it is clear that the Allard Well is not the likely culprit for any problems claimed by the two homeowners. One hopes media outlets in northeast Ohio, and the federal court being petitioned, reviews this data before lending any credibility to a claim that appears to have no basis in fact.


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