Charleroi receives grant to cap gas well in residential basement

November 22, 2013
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The gas well in the basement of a Charleroi home
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
This house at 920 Rear Fallowfield Ave. in Charleroi has a gas well in its basement. Order a Print

CHARLEROI – A Mon Valley woman thought she getting a bargain when she bought a Charleroi house in foreclosure, only to later discover she moved into a potential death trap.

Brenda Kyle would learn the house was filling with dangerous levels of natural gas leaking from an old gas well in the basement of her dwelling at 920 Rear Fallowfield Ave.

“It was off the charts,” Kyle said of the reading on a test gauge a gas company employee used in the basement in April 2012 after he arrived to restore natural gas to the house.

The house was later condemned and Kyle and her nephew had to relocate after the state Department of Environmental Protection was called to investigate the unusual discovery, said Donn Henderson, Charleroi’s borough manager.

The gas is being vented through the roof, Henderson said.

“It does not pose any immediate danger,” he said Friday, a day after state Rep. Pete Daley, D-California, announced a $147,000 grant to plug the well.

No one knows how the well ended up in a basement in an area with tightly packed houses.

Kyle, of Donora, said it’s likely the house was “built around” the well that predates state law requiring them to be registered. It also appeared someone tapped into the well to get free natural gas for the house, Henderson said.

He said the state grant stipulates the borough must acquire the house and have it demolished, work that will be delayed until the nearby electric lines can be rerouted.

Kyle said she got deathly sick every time she stayed in the house. She also said her nephew smokes cigarettes and was fortunate he never went into the basement while smoking.

She purchased the house “as is” for $5,000, Henderson said, and was led to believe the pipe was part of an old sewer.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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