Columbia Gas cuts off west Toledo neighborhood

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Columbia Gas says a west Toledo neighborhood had their gas turned off to keep the homeowners safe. The Graystone subdivision on Oakside Drive off of west Bancroft has been without gas for the last 13 days.

There are 13 homes in the relatively new subdivision, but no one is comfortable, and homeowners are frustrated.

After one homeowner complained of burned out grass in her yard, Columbia Gas came out and discovered gas. Not a leak from their own lines, but methane that naturally comes from decomposition in the soil.

Columbia gas cut off the natural gas, worried pilot lights could ignite the methane and cause an explosion.

"I go to the gym if I have to or it's a cold shower. Some neighbors are putting garden hoses in driveways to warm water and rinsing off with that. Microwave, getting water hot in microwaves to wash up," said resident Kris Jensen.

The developer says he has done his own testing that revealed methane was not at dangerous levels. They want the gas turned back on.

"We've got lawn mowers that are running; we are cooking out on our gas grills. Nobody seems to have blown up so the risk I think is very very minimal," said resident Kathy Lycourt.

"When you have a policy I guess you have to follow your policy. I understand that, but there has to be, in my opinion, there has to be a little common sense value. In all these houses there was a zero test reading," said Ron Hensley of Seneca Building Company.

Columbia Gas spokesperson Chris Kozak says they'll cut off natural gas if any methane reading is above zero. He says their readings at Graystone Woods showed extremely high levels of methane at 5 to 17 percent along the homes' foundations.

"And we completely understand the concern and the frustration with the customers out there but our number one goal is to make sure the delivery of natural gas keeps them safe and is safe for the community at large," said Kozak.

Columbia will turn the gas back on if the builder makes remediation efforts to keep methane from seeping into the homes and away from ignition sources. Hensley, the builder, has agreed to do that, but Columbia wants the city of Toledo or the Ohio EPA to sign off on it.

After discussions with the mayor and city councilmen on Tuesday, Hensley hopes they can get that done within a few days.

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