Updated: October 31, 2019 05:32 PM
Created: October 30, 2019 10:29 PM
BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — There's a smelly situation out in Brighton. Homeowners on Howland Avenue say there's an odor in the air making them sick. It's been there for a couple days. Neighbors have been worried it could be something toxic.
News10NBC learned the root of the problem. Aces Energy and Frey Drilling installed a geothermal well behind Jeremiah Green's home.
In the process, drillers tell News10NBC they hit a methane pocket.
"Around midday Tuesday we started noticed a foul odor kind of like a sulfur smell," Green said. "It comes and goes but it's a really strong odor when it hits you."
A representative from Aces Energy sent News10NBC a statement explaining the origin of the smell.
"During the drilling of a 499-foot closed loop vertical geothermal well, a zone of trapped gas was encountered and is currently venting to the atmosphere to release the pressure, an industry standard practice. Our drilling sub-contractor did not do anything out of the ordinary and is following standard venting procedures, but due to the close proximity to neighboring houses, an odor is apparent. Due to the fact the venting gas has the odor similar to natural gas, residents are calling 911 to report a potential natural gas leak, a valid concern. We are working with local authorities and want to commend the efforts of the Brighton Fire Department. In similar scenarios, the odor subsides in 24-48 hours but every case is unique and unfortunately our drilling contractor cannot give an exact time frame due to many influencing factors. We will continue to monitor and work to mitigate as mother nature allows. "
Research shows low doses of methane are considered safe, but some neighbors like Reginal Willas are worried about health implications from the odor.
"You will get irritated it almost feels like you need to wear a mask," Willas said.
Green understands how the mistake happened, but he's concerned with the lack of communication from the Town of Brighton.
"I just expect the town or the fire department to be a little more forward with what residents are supposed to expect," Green said.
Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle responded to a text from News10NBC about the odor saying in part:
"My understanding is that a geothermal system was being drilled on the site, for heating a home being built, and the driller hit a naturally occurring methane pocket in the ground. Again, my understanding is that the methane is being vented. The Town Fire Marshal and DPW Superintendent are aware of the situation and are working with the driller."
News10NBC followed up with a message asking for more information about how residents were alerted of this problem, but we have not heard back.
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