Guilford Center resident lights tap water on fire for fun; no natural gas drilling within miles

GUILFORD – Guilford Center resident Robert Sandell keeps a blow torch near his sink and regularly ignites the methane-induced water coming out of his kitchen faucet for fun.

Sandell described his hobby and displayed photos and videos as proof to a group of reporters in The Evening Sun’s offices last week.

“If it was going to kill me, it would have by now,” the 74-year old said, explaining that he drinks about 10 cups of coffee a day using water from his tap.

Sandell’s story may sound familiar, particularly to those following the controversial hydraulic fracturing process that is being employed around the country to release natural gas from shale formations. Fracking, as its called, is the subject of Gasland, a documentary film nominated for an Oscar at the Academy Awards presentation on Sunday. One of the film’s premises is that the technology, which requires millions of gallons of water mixed with soap, sand and a number of potentially toxic chemicals, is polluting the water table.

The closest natural gas drilling that has taken place near Guilford Center is more than 25 miles away in Coventry, according to the Chenango County Planning Department. Sandell, himself, pointed out that no drilling could have caused the methane in his water.

“I don’t think you can pollute any worse than what we’ve got going on,” he said.

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