Well flare brings new frustrations

LORDSTOWN – The constant but temporary deafening noise being emitted from a new Utica Shale horizontal gas well made it difficult for neighbors to hear one another Monday afternoon, despite their shouts.

Still, few were complaining, noting they, too, rely on natural gas to heat their homes.

“I am not a complainer. I just go with the flow,” said Edna Trinkle, who lives on Spring Pines Drive in the Westwood Lake mobile home park, less than 300 feet from the well site.

From her backyard, Trinkle has a clear view of the giant flames burning on just the other side of the tree line.

At the well site located in a Brunstetter Road field, two giant flames could be seen “flaring” Monday afternoon. Flaring is the controlled burn of natural gas that is common practice in the oil and gas industry to test the well’s productivity and stabilize its pressure, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The flaring process began about a week ago, but after burning relatively quietly since then, an incredibly loud, constant roar erupted over the weekend.

According to the Ohio EPA, flares generate heat and noise, and large flares can be quite noisy because of the volume and velocity of the gas going through the flare stack. Flare size and brightness are related to the type and amount of gas or liquids in the flare stack.

In a prepared statement, well operator Halcon Resources said it is not unusual for noise levels to rise and fall.

“Inspectors at ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) have visited the site and have reported that there are no problems. The noise is only temporary and may last for up to 2 weeks. We will do the best we can to reduce the impact on the neighbors,” Halcon officials said.

While Trinkle admits she has moved her sleeping quarters into the living room of her mobile home in an attempt to get further away from the noise, she complained little and noted it will be temporary. “I am tolerating it. They are in my backyard, but you can’t beat city hall, so I tolerate it. It’s only going to be two more weeks,” Trinkle said. “You get used to it.”

Trinkle’s neighbor, Pat McCrudden, is angry, though, and she wants people to know it.

McCrudden, an opponent of horizontal drilling, said she has not been able to sleep, cannot work in her yard and points out if there was a tornado siren, she would never be able to hear it.

A little further away from the drill site, Reva Montgomery was working in her yard Monday afternoon, ignoring the constant dull roar.

“It’s not as peaceful here as it used to be,” Montgomery said with a chuckle. “But it’s only temporary.”

From inside her Brunstetter Road home, located about 900 feet from the well site, she said the sound is easily drowned out by the television.