Settlement reached in gas-well incident

Settlement reached in gas-well incident by Joan Demirjian, January 12, 2011, Chagrin Valley Times
A lawsuit involving Ohio Valley Energy, which was brought by homeowners in Bainbridge affected by leaking methane gas from a gas and oil well, is close to settlement. Bainbridge Township also joined the lawsuit. Chardon attorney Dale Markowitz, who represents the homeowners impacted by the leak, said they have agreed to the settlement with Ohio Valley Energy. Bainbridge Trustee Jeff Markley said trustees now have to sign the settlement document on behalf of the township and get it back to the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office. Mr. Markley said a settlement offer was made. The township’s legal representative, Geauga County Assistant Prosecutor Becky Schlagg, has advised the township to take it.

Ohio Valley Energy, of Austintown, had drilled a well off English Drive in the township. In December 2007, after gas migrated through the aquifers and into water wells, an explosion occurred at the home of Richard and Thelma Payne on English Drive. The gas also seeped into other homes and contaminated water wells, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Homeowners affected in the area off Bainbridge Road joined in a class-action lawsuit against Ohio Valley Energy.

Bainbridge joined the lawsuit in January 2009. The Bainbridge Police Station water well was affected by the methane gas, township officials have maintained.

Bainbridge Trustees are seeking restitution for expenses with the police station water well. Water is being trucked in to serve the station off Bainbridge Road. A new water well has been drilled for the station and is being tested.
Residents whose water wells were impacted by methane gas had to use bottled water in their homes. Ohio Valley Energy agreed to install a waterline to carry City of Cleveland water to the homes. It was installed on Bainbridge Road to bring water to about 22 homes in the area of English, Scotland and Kingswood drives. Work began in late 2009 and was completed in 2010. The lawsuit continued, because the homeowners impacted had not been compensated, according to Mr. Markowitz. Bainbridge Trustee Lorrie Benza said a mediator in the lawsuit took all the evidence, and the township does not know what the residents got. “Everybody has to sign it, and we send it back, and then the mediator puts it together to finalize the suit,” she said.

Charlie Masters, president of Ohio Valley Energy, said of the lawsuit, “I’m thrilled it’s over. I’m very happy.” … Ohio Valley Energy purchased the home of Mr. and Mrs. Payne where the explosion took place in the basement.

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