'Don't Smoke in the Shower'

By WBNG News
By By Dave Greber

'Don't Smoke in the Shower'

September 2, 2011 Updated Sep 2, 2011 at 10:53 PM EDT

Guilford, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Among the hills of Guilford, you can find the signs of natural gas almost anywhere.

And that includes bubbling from the kitchen tap of Robert Sandells.

While the flammable water phenomenon may have to do with methane or natural gas, it has absolutely nothing to do with gas drilling, both Sandell and local experts agree.

In fact, the nearest vertical drilling operation to Sandell's house on Stanley Street in Guilford: nearly 30 miles.

Most people would be alarmed at the thought of flammable water, but Sandell says he's showered with it, made coffee with it, even drank it for the better part of the past decade.

His faucets have sputtered ever since he had his water well drilled in 2001.

"Everyday, I got gas," Sandell said. "You get up in the morning, you got gas. You take a shower, you got gas. You wash the dishes in the morning, it's like poof, poof, poof, like a sandblaster, shoots water all over the place. I got plenty of gas, I just like them to come out here and drill some holes to see what the heck's the matter here."

He added: "A woman that run the bar, she told me when I got the pump; I told her, it's puffing, like air or something. She said, that's not air, that's gas. Don't smoke in the shower. I just laughed and thought it was a joke."

Susan Riha, professor of Earth and Atmospherical Science at Cornell University says the methane build-up in natural water wells isn't all that uncommon in the Twin Tiers.

That's because the areas like the Marcellus Shale that drillers are itching to access in New York really is that plentiful.

Riha also says the water de-gasses as soon as it hits the air, hence the fiery kitchen sink. She also said it's harmless to consume since it dissipates so rapidly.

The danger she said, however, is if methane builds up inside Sandell's home, potentially leading to an explosion.

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